What is a Community Benefits Program?
A community benefits program is a program or initiative established by a hospital or managed care organization (MCO) in the community it serves, to promote preventive care and improve the health status of working families and populations at risk.
Do all hospitals and MCOs have Community Benefits Programs?
As defined by Statute (Connecticut General Statutes 19a-127k), Community Benefits Programs are voluntary, so not all hospitals and MCOs have them. However, all entities with such programs are required to report them to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Hospitals required to report include acute care inpatient facilities and rehabilitation, maternity, psychiatric, and chronic care facilities. All MCOs operating in the state of Connecticut are required to report.
Since 2000, hospitals and MCOs have reported whether or not they have a program, and if so, they complete a survey detailing the elements of their program. DPH is required to summarize the information contained in the reports and make that summary available to the Legislature and the public.
For 2006, Connecticut's 43 hospitals and 24 MCOs were required to report to DPH whether or not they had in place a community benefits program as defined by Statute. Some hospitals, while not having a defined community benefits program, still chose to report community benefits activities similar to those of defined programs. For 2006, while 17 hospitals reported having a program, a total of 35 hospital surveys were completed and submitted to DPH. In addition, one MCO and the charitable foundation of another MCO reported having a community benefits program and submitted a survey to DPH.
What is the Scope of Community Benefits Programs?
The scope of community benefit activities varies widely. The four most frequently reported activities at hospitals in 2006 were:
Provide a Training Site for Health Care Professionals: 100% of the responding hospitals utilized their Community Benefits Program to provide a site for nursing and other health professional training.
Health Education in the Community: 91% of the hospitals provided some type of health education and screening in the community. Education in the areas of exercise, nutrition, hypertension, and diet were offered most frequently.
Support for Safety-Net Agencies: 86% of the hospitals provided support for health departments or school clinics. Approximately two-thirds of the reporting hospitals supported community health centers.
Support for Social Service Agencies: 83% of the hospitals supported homeless or victims' assistance shelters and social service agencies.
Detailed information on findings in 2006 and all previously published years can be found in the reports listed below.