Hospital system’s “community benefits:” $149 million

Tim Joslin, CEOCommunity Medical Centers provided nearly $149 million in uncompensated services to the medically underserved in fiscal year 2008-2009, equivalent to nearly 15% of its total expenses, according to the nonprofit hospital system’s annual community benefits report filed with the State of California.

Community has historically spent more on uncompensated community benefits than all other Fresno-area hospitals combined. And, some years, nearly double their combined total.

By comparison, Community’s uncompensated community benefits for fiscal year 2007-2008 were nearly $138 million.

The “community benefits” figure reflects services for which the hospital system is not paid or is under-paid. It does not include bad debt.

The community benefits total for 2008-2009 includes charity care, unpaid costs for Medi-Cal and Medicare services, uncompensated costs of the University of California, San Francisco-affiliated medical education program, and unpaid costs under Community’s contract with Fresno County for the medically indigent services provider program.

An example of Community Medical Centers’ community benefits: Neither government nor private insurers pays for providing translation services to Community’s patient population in a region where more than 100 languages are spoken. Last year, the corporate-wide cost to Community for those uncompensated services was about $900,000.

Community operates three acute-care hospitals, including the only combined burn and Level 1 trauma units between Los Angeles and Sacramento, and numerous other health facilities. It is the region’s largest private employer with 6,000 staff, along with 1,100 affiliated physicians and 900 volunteers. Community also serves as the region’s “safety net” provider, through its 1996 contract with Fresno County.

“In these turbulent economic times, we are seeing more patients without insurance or who are otherwise unable to pay the full cost of the care we provide,” said Tim A. Joslin, Community’s chief executive officer. “It costs about $2.7 million a day to run all of Community’s operations. So imagine running a hospital system for more than two months of the year and not being paid – that’s a rough equivalent of that $149 million. We are proud of our mission and of the care we provide, but this is an ongoing hardship to be sure.”

As a condition for tax-exempt status, nonprofit hospitals such as Community are required by state law to report the uncompensated benefits they provide each year.

View a copy of the community benefits report.

John G. Taylor reported this story. He can be reached at MedWatchToday@CommunityMedical.org.