Medical Center’s Community Benefit Report Released
Grinnell Regional Medical Center provides more than $7.9 million in community benefits to the GRMC service area, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2013 figures, includes $1.2 million in free or discounted community benefits that GRMC specifically implemented to help area residents. It also includes $854,961 in uncompensated Medicaid care, $4.9 million in uncompensated Medicare services, and $819,527 in bad debt (services to individuals who did not pay and did not qualify for charity care). These numbers are in the medical center’s annual report released earlier this month.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to healthcare. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, and community support.
The results for GRMC are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2013 valued at nearly $1.3 billion, including more than $335 million in charity care. All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.
“The 2013 community health needs assessment identified areas for health improvement in the GRMC service area,” explains Bill Menner, GRMC board president. “In addition, the changes in mental health service providers in 2013 created a large opportunity for GRMC to help individuals, however, funding for mental health services remains woefully below operational costs. Our mission is to serve and care for residents. If they can’t afford care, we work to enroll them in a charity care program. The new billing program installed in 2013 makes this process faster and easier for individuals who need assistance.”
Community benefit also reaches beyond the direct healthcare services. GRMC supports the community with giving bike helmets to every third grader in the service area, participating in health fairs, hosting the Senior Education Program, organizing support groups, and sponsoring health related events. GRMC also provides support to after-prom parties, advance directive courses, community CPR classes, and other community health services.
At the state level, the ability of Iowa hospitals to respond to such needs is affected by many factors including managing huge losses inflected upon by Medicare and Medicaid, totaling more than $314 million. More than 60 percent of all hospital revenue in Iowa comes from Medicare and Medicaid. Hospitals serving rural communities and counties are particularly dependent on these programs. GRMC lost $4.9 million to Medicare and $.8 million to Medicaid in 2013.
Iowa hospitals continue to implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals, addressing the health needs of identified populations, and implementing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking out ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the Commonwealth Fund.
“GRMC’s commitment to bring the best care to area residents is seen in the addition of new robotic surgical unit, new technology, and new electronic medical records system for patients. When one combines the community benefits this study highlights, it all adds up to a very good value for those we serve,” says Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO.