Bonta & Wieckowski Bill Brings Transparency And Defined Standards To Community Benefits

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today Assemblymembers Bonta and Wieckowski announced new legislation that would bring accountability and transparency to the healthcare system with regard to community benefits and charity care.  AB 503, authored by Wieckowski and Bonta, would define “charity care” in state law for the first time, and would set uniform standards and requirements for private nonprofit hospitals and nonprofit multispecialty clinics throughout the state with respect to providing community benefits.  The bill also requires these health care facilities to allocate certain funding for low-income and underserved communities as part of their responsibility to provide community benefits and charity care.

“AB 503 will clearly define requirements regarding charity care and ensure that vulnerable and low-income communities have access to the healthcare they need,” stated Bonta.  “With implementation of the Affordable Care Act now in full swing, it is more critical now than ever before to ensure that our healthcare system is transparent and that we are delivering the care that we have promised to our communities.”

Wieckowski said, “A number of studies and state audits have shown that without a standard definition of charity care it is nearly impossible to determine if local communities are receiving the health care services low-income residents need. Taxpayers are providing these hospitals with almost $2 billion in tax benefits and yet there is no system in place with a standard method to calculate the amount of community benefits.”

Bonta concluded, “Our state prides itself in being a leader in the nation on a number of issues, including healthcare, trade and technology.  However, with regard to charity care, California falls behind other states in protecting the welfare of its most financially and physically vulnerable residents.  It is time that we catch up - we need ensure that the public receives true, definable charity care and community benefits in exchange for the foregone taxes from nonprofit healthcare facilities valued at multimillions of dollars.”

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He is the Chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay. He is a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Banking & Finance, and Elections & Redistricting Committees.