The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) has issued a new publication detailing some of the hundreds of important and meaningful initiatives that hospitals in the commonwealth are undertaking to support and give back to their local communities. A Commitment to Community: Massachusetts Hospitals’ Community Benefit Initiatives
details stories from each of MHA’s acute care hospital members, showing how they are improving the health of the individuals and communities they serve. The publication was created with the assistance of MHA’s membership, and also describes the community benefit process in Massachusetts.
“These are stories that need to be heard, because they tell how hospitals each day are working outside of their walls to empower the disadvantaged and strengthen the links between us all,” said MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh
. “Our members’ work ranges from providing healthy food programs for kids in schools and seniors, to integrating housing assistance into a patient’s care plan, to training EMS responders, and running substance use disorder recovery programs. All of it is noble and worthy of attention.”
Massachusetts hospitals know that to create healthy communities they must intervene prior to illness through preventive care and offer wellness programs and support groups, among many other initiatives. Every MHA acute care member hospital has community benefit programs, which are provided at no cost to those being served and are not reimbursed by the state or federal government, health insurance companies, or any public subsidies. According to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Massachusetts hospitals in FY18 provided nearly $650 million in community benefits for Massachusetts residents. The IRS – allowing hospitals to count financial losses related to care provided to Medicaid recipients and medical education costs, among other metrics – totals hospital community benefits in Massachusetts at $2.7 billion.
A special section of the MHA booklet highlights the intersection between housing and health, underscoring how housing instability directly contributes to poor health outcomes. The development and maintenance of safe, affordable living accommodations is one of the six social determinants of health that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has identified in its Determination of Need guidelines, and housing is one of the four community benefits areas on which the state encourages hospitals to focus.
to access a printable electronic version of the publication.