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N.J. hospitals commit $2.9 billion to community benefit programs

2018 Community Benefit Report (PRNewsfoto/New Jersey Hospital Association)

2018 Community Benefit Report (PRNewsfoto/New Jersey Hospital Association)

As the nation’s healthcare delivery system continues its focus on population health, New Jersey hospitals and health systems have upped their investment in community benefit – reaching $2.9 billion in 2016, according to the 2018 Community Benefit Report issued today by the New Jersey Hospital Association.

“Population health” is a proactive focus on the well-being of the broader community, shifting from illness to wellness. The community benefit offerings from New Jersey hospitals reflect that focus on well-being, serving more than 29 million people in 2016, according to the report.

“NJHA’s mission – to improve the health of the people of New Jersey – is exemplified by the wide-ranging activities and programs our members provide to meet the needs of the people in their communities,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “By reaching out and addressing some of the social determinants of health, hospitals and health systems are committing to the overall wellness of the state.”

“Community benefit” is defined uniformly across the nation’s hospitals and health systems as a way to report activities and programs that meet specific community health needs. Criteria for programs to be called a community benefit include generating a low or negative margin, responding to the needs of New Jersey’s diverse populations, responding to public health needs and education or research that improves overall community health.

Highlights from New Jersey’s report include:

  • $2.3 billion in free and discounted care for the uninsured, underinsured and others without the means to pay
  • $58.9 million in community health improvement services including programs and partnerships for patients, consumers and community members targeting issues such as nutrition, safety, exercise and other local health needs
  • $225.3 million in health professions education to prepare the next generation of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and
  • $320 million in other community health programs, which includes donations and subsidized health services, defined as programs that a hospital or health system provides to meet a community need, despite financial losses.

The full report is available on a new page at www.njha.com/community-benefit-2018.

NJHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) collected data electronically and manually from the state’s nonprofit healthcare providers to produce the 2018 Community Benefit Report.

“This $2.9 billion investment by our hospitals and health systems is an investment in improving the health of New Jersey residents and an investment in population health,” said Bennett. “Modern healthcare delivery is well beyond providing care to acutely ill people within the four walls of a hospital. Our hospitals are actively identifying healthcare challenges and barriers in our communities, developing targeted, proactive strategies and making them accessible where people live, work and play. That’s the all-important intersection between these community benefit programs and the population health vision.”