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OHA Launches Hospital Community Benefit Program, and Patient Protections

Oregon State Department of Health

Portland, Ore. – A new Oregon Health Authority (OHA) report highlights the implementation of House Bill 3076, a law the Oregon Legislature enacted in 2019 that requires a percentage of nonprofit hospital funds to be reinvested in communities.

Under HB 3076, OHA established minimum spending requirements for nonprofit hospitals and worked with them to develop policies that offer financial assistance to more patients, including those with income up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The new guidelines also give people in Oregon medical debt protections; under the law, hospitals are prohibited from referring patients to collections prior to screening them for financial assistance eligibility.

“We know medical debt is a major issue for many Oregonians,” said David Baden, chief financial officer at OHA. “New financial assistance policies are now in place that can really make a difference. OHA will continue to work on awareness and compliance to further the goal of greater health equity in our communities.”

To establish the new Hospital Community Benefit Program, OHA began a formal rulemaking process in September 2020. The agency did outreach in all Oregon counties to solicit member applications for the Rules Advisory Committee (RAC), which then established a method for assigning minimum community benefit spending. Throughout the process, OHA partnered with Oregon’s nonprofit hospitals, patient advocates and health care economists. In July 2022, OHA convened a community benefit summit to provide guidance to hospitals during the transition.

The report includes the following key findings:

  • Hospital financial assistance policies are largely in alignment with new legal requirements. Hospitals have updated their policies with requirements for minimum levels of financial assistance. Most hospital policies pertaining to medical debt have also been updated to incorporate the added protections against referrals to collection and interest charges.
  • Patients continue to experience challenges with accessing financial assistance. While trends related to medical debt and consumer impacts are improving, inequities remain and must be addressed. OHA will continue working to ensure patients are aware of their rights, with a focus on monitoring the compliance of medical debt requirements, ensuring eligible patients are screened for financial assistance, and recommending that applications and processes are simplified.
  • All Oregon nonprofit hospitals have accepted their assigned minimum spending requirements for current fiscal years. As of December 2022, all participating hospitals have accepted their spending floors. Despite the program’s start during the COVID-19 pandemic, strong engagement with partners has allowed for a successful launch.

OHA will continue to work closely with hospitals to provide guidance about requirements under HB 3076. Data for the first year of implementation will be released after September 2023.

Read the full report here.



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