Resource comes on the heels of national attention to nonprofit hospital patient assistance programs

Boston, MA, October 31, 2007.  Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization, has launched a custom-designed web-based software solution that allows users to “build” their own state legislation aimed at setting standards for patient financial assistance and free care laws.  The introduction of the Patient Financial Assistance Act tool comes on the heels of a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Senate Finance Committee on the issue of nonprofit hospital community benefits.

Hospital free care is the ultimate safety net for millions of uninsured people.  Unfortunately, hospital standards for providing free or reduced care are vague, in particular for nonprofit hospitals who seek tax-exempt status as charities.  Community Catalyst offered comments before Congress this week, along other consumer groups, hospital associations, academics and various stakeholders debating the extent of the obligation of nonprofit hospitals to provide services to their communities, in exchange for tax exemptions.

But as the discussion continues at the federal level, Community Catalyst and advocates across the country are also working at the state level to set adequate standards.  The Patient Financial Assistance Act tool helps advocates understand the various components of financial assistance laws and provides important model language for strong state legislation.

“While the spotlight recently has been on the federal community benefit obligations of nonprofit hospitals, we don’t want state advocates to forget that they still hold a lot of power for making a change at the state level,” said Renée Markus Hodin, project director at Community Catalyst.  “We envision this resource to be extensively useful, not only for consumer advocates across the country, but also for state policymakers looking to enact meaningful hospital financial assistance measures and protections for patients in their state.”

The “build-a-bill” web tool allows users to select standards for various key components: from reporting and eligibility standards to publicity and billing and collections practices.  Users can select among three different Model Acts or they can customize their own legislation based on their own state circumstances.

Try it now—build your own Patient Financial Assistance Act.

About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all.  Since 1997, Community Catalyst has been working to build the consumer and community leadership required to transform the American health system.  With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to change the health care system so it serves everyone—especially vulnerable members of society.  For more information, visit