Abrahams Announces Nassau County's Second Charity Care Report
Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) and the Nassau County Department of Health announced today the release of the county’s second Charity Care Report. The report, required under a local law first passed in 2003 required that hospitals develop policies and procedures to make it easier for medically indigent persons to apply for and receive charity care, and for each hospital to report on the amount of charity care dispensed and the number of patients served.
“I am proud of our County’s commitment to helping all of our citizens, but especially those who need the most help,” Abrahams said. “Everyone in our communities deserves the highest quality healthcare, and this is one way we can ensure that will happen.”
“This report demonstrates Nassau County’s concern over the health of all our citizens, especially those in greatest need,” said County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. “My number one public health priority is to reduce health disparities, and to do that we need a health care system that is responsive to the needs of all our communities.”
The report describes the size and programs of all 12 county hospitals, the amount of charity care distributed, the residence by zip code of charity care patients, and a summary of policies, procedures and signage. Major findings in this second report included:
- All 12 county hospitals have established policies and procedures to assist indigent persons in applying for free care.
- In 2004, hospitals provided more than 130,000 episodes of charity care at a cost of over $46 million.
- More than 8,000 persons formally applied for and were granted charity care, although the vast amount of uncompensated care is still provided outside the formal application process.
- There were large differences in the numbers of patients served and the amount of care provided by county hospitals, much of which is due to differences in size, services provided and the ownership of ambulatory care services.
- Amendments to the law in 2005 improved the accuracy of hospitals’ reporting, but there is still no standard method for defining, tracking and accounting for charity care.
Kevin Dahill, President and CEO of the Nassau Suffolk Hospital Council said: “We have been pleased to collaborate on this report and hope it provides assistance to our patients.”
Dr. Rose Guercia and Donna Kass, Co-directors, L.I. Health Access Monitoring Project said:” The change that this law has made for low income, uninsured people cannot be underestimated. The law has resulted in a substantial improvement in the way hospitals notify people of the existence of financial assistance and this second annual report shows a marked improvement over the first year of the law’s existence. We look forward to even more improvement as a result of the newly enacted state law which sets standards for eligibility, defines charges and which might never have happened if Nassau County had not acted first.”
In 2006, New York State passed a bill that would require similar reporting by all hospitals statewide.
A complete copy of the second Charity Care Report is available on the county’s website at: www.nassaucountyny.gov/health.