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March 24, 2011 News Headlines

State Budget Negotiations Ongoing; HANYS Continues Advocacy

Legislative budget conference subcommittees are meeting today, with lawmakers attempting to negotiate details of the 2011-2012 State Budget as they work to achieve an on-time April 1 budget. Last night, the General Conference Committee accepted final reports from three sub-committees:  General Government/Local Assistance, Mental Hygiene, and Environment/Agriculture/Housing.  The Health Subcommittee has met twice, and will likely meet again.  Subcommittees are expected to meet over the next few days. HANYS continues to work with lawmakers on many budget issues affecting members and encourages members to continue contacting legislators.  Contact: Sara Rosenberger

National Strategy for Quality Improvement Report Issued to Congress

In accordance with the Affordable Care Act, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established a National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care that sets priorities to increase access to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.  HHS’ March report to Congress describes the initial strategy and plan for implementation.

In October 2010, HANYS provided a comment letter to HHS and the Agency for Healthcare and Research and Quality (AHRQ) on this initiative.

The National Strategy has three goals: 

  • Better Care:  Improve overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
  • Healthy People and Communities:  Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.
  • Affordable Care:  Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and government.

 To help achieve these goals, the National Strategy established six priorities for public and private partners:

  • make care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care;
  • ensure that each person and family is engaged as partners in their care;
  • promote effective communication and coordination of care;
  • promote the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease;
  • work with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living; and
  • make quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.

Supporting documents are available on the AHRQ Web site.  Contact: Nancy Landor 


IRS Makes Further Revisions to Tax Form 990 Schedule H

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently amended Schedule H, Form 990, adding new Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements hospitals must meet to qualify for tax exemption. The new requirements can be found in Internal Revenue Code Section 501(r).

The new Schedule H vastly expands the paperwork required of hospitals beyond what is called for by the statute.  Section V.B. requires responses to 21 questions, most of which have multiple sub-questions on each of the hospital’s licensed facilities.  Any facility that does not meet the new standards will not be considered to be tax-exempt.  Unfortunately, IRS has not provided any guidance to hospitals on the new standards or the consequences of a facility losing tax-exempt status.

The seven questions regarding community needs assessment are “optional” for the 2010 filing (Part V.B., lines 1-7). The instructions explain that Section 501(r)(3) does not impose community health needs assessment requirements until tax years beginning after March 23, 2012.  HANYS realizes this federal community needs assessment cycle is inconsistent with the New York State Community Service Plan (CSP) community needs assessment, which will be due September 2012. HANYS is working with the Department of Health to see if the CSP cycle aligned with the IRS requirement. The rest of Part V.B. is not marked “optional,” but the questions are not applicable to hospitals whose 2010 fiscal year began before March 23, 2010. Therefore, the newly revised 2010 Schedule H Part V.B. is entirely optional for calendar year filers and for filers whose fiscal year began January 1 through March 23, 2010. Contact: Sue Ellen Wagner