BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, April 19, convened health care experts for the first meeting of an advisory task force to examine potential updates to the office’s guidelines for the community benefits that Massachusetts health care institutions provide to residents.
The Advisory Task Force on Community Benefits will review the AG’s Community Benefits Program to advise on what updates should be made to the program for hospitals and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The task force members will discuss strategies for advancing statewide health priorities as well as develop recommendations for streamlining reporting requirements for participating institutions.
“Massachusetts health care institutions provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to work with local communities to address social determinants of health like nutrition, stable housing and prevention education, while lowering costs in our state,” Healey said, in a statement. “The future of health care doesn’t just mean personalized medicine, it means crafting solutions for communities, and we are honored to have key stakeholders and public health experts on this task force to take a look at this program and update it to meet our current needs.”
The AG’s Community Benefits Guidelines, first promulgated in 1994, provide a framework for hospitals and HMOs to build upon their commitment to address unmet community health and social needs by formalizing their approach to planning for annual benefits and collaborating with community representatives and public health experts in developing programs.
Under the Guidelines, hospitals and HMOs submit annual reports to the AG’s Office detailing their community benefits efforts. Between 2010 and 2015, hospitals and HMOs collectively reported more than $750 million in Community Benefits expenditures each year.
There have been significant developments around community benefits at the federal and state levels since the AG’s Guidelines were last updated in 2009. The work of this task force will help modernize the Guidelines in light of those developments and advances in the evidence base, and will explore recommendations to better align resources and standards across common programs to build the long-term capacity of our communities to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.
The following organizations’ representatives and health care experts have been appointed to the task force:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation – Audrey Shelto
- Boston Public Health Commission – Margaret Reid
- Coalition of Western MA Hospitals – Frank Robinson
- Community Catalyst – Susan Sherry
- Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals – Joan Quinlan
- Greater Boston Interfaith Organization – Paul Hattis
- MA Association of Community Development Corporations – Joe Kriesberg
- MA Association of Health Plans – Eric Linzer
- MA Council of Community Hospitals – Jody White
- MA Department of Public Health – Ben Wood
- MA Health & Hospital Association – Doug Brown
- MA League of Community Health Centers – Myechia Minter-Jordan
- MA Public Health Association – Maddie Ribble
- Don Berwick, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
- Michael Botticelli, Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine
- Nancy Kane, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
The work of the task force will be facilitated by Karen Tseng, Sandra Wolitzky, David Brill, and Elana Brochin, all of the AG’s Health Care Division.