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States Use a Sharper Lens to Scrutinize Nonprofit Hospitals’ Community Benefit Spending

This post presents two sample hospital reporting templates to help policymakers capture the information they need to critically evaluate the community benefit investments hospitals make in exchange for their tax exemptions.

The new templates, which are based on detailed community benefit reporting models from several states, ask hospitals to disclose the net dollar amounts spent on community benefit activities, as well as the goals and outcomes of those activities.

  • The Hospital Expenditure reporting template requests information on how a hospital’s community benefit expenditures are intended to address needs identified in a community health needs assessment. Its questions include:
    • How much net spending was allocated to address each specific need identified in the assessment?
    • Is that money spent by the hospital directly, or does the hospital give the money to an organization or wellness fund to use to address those needs?
    • How much spending is in cash, and how much is in staff time or other in-kind donations?
  • The Program Outcomes template explores how hospitals measure the goals and outcomes of their community benefit activities. Questions include:
    • What are the goals of the activities designated to address community health needs?
    • What kind of data or information is the hospital collecting to gauge its impact?
    • Who are the hospital’s partners in that work?
    • How does its investment and outcome align with state priorities?

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