The importance of assessing community health needs and developing an implementation strategy to address selected needs was reinforced by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act), enacted March 23, 2010. These new Federal requirements along with many states mandate tax-exempt hospitals to conduct community needs assessments and develop community benefit plans, in varying degrees of specifications.
Community benefits are programs or activities that promote health and healing in response to identified community needs and meet at least one of these community benefit objectives:
- Improve access to health care services
- Enhance the health of the community
- Advance medical or health care knowledge
- Relieve or reduce the burden of government or other community efforts
In order to comply with Federal tax-exemption requirements in the Affordable Care Act, a tax-exempt hospital facility must:
- Conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every three years. The assessment must take into account input from persons who represent the broad interests of the community served by the hospital facility, including those with special knowledge of or expertise in public health.
- Adopt an implementation strategy to meet the community health needs identified through the assessment.
- Report how it is addressing the needs identified in the community health needs assessment and a description of unmet needs with the reasons why such needs are not being addressed. Key components of the CHNA should include the following:
- Plan and Prepare for the Assessment
- Determine the Purpose and Scope of the Community Health Needs Assessment
- Identify Data that Describes the Health Needs of the Community
- Understand and Interpret the Data
- Define and Validate Priorities
- Document and Communicate Results