NCMS Board Hears Ideas On Improving Community Benefit Reporting

Dr. Merrit Seshul

Merritt Seshul, MD, FACS, FAAOA, of Hickory, a long-time member of the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) and NC Society of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, spoke to the NCMS Board of Directors last weekend about Community Benefit Reporting (CBR) requirements, which currently apply to non-profit hospitals. These requirements form part of the basis for the hospitals’ tax-exempt status. Dr. Seshul had several proposals on how to improve the process to benefit patients, increase access to care and create opportunities to include and reward physician contributions to the community.

Dr. Seshul, a 2009 NCMS Foundation Leadership College alumnus, has been researching the CBR system since completing his Leadership College research project, titled, “How Physicians Are Helping Indigent Patients.”

He told Board members, the current requirements for hospitals to report on providing care for indigent patients as well as other benefits to the community are somewhat ambiguous in North Carolina. Nonprofit hospitals are not required to conduct community health needs assessments or submit community benefit plans or implementation strategies. The current system represents a lost opportunity for physician practices that play a role in solving North Carolina’s health care access issues.

He suggests bringing North Carolina’s CBR requirements into line with federal standards and finding ways for physicians and physician practices to also report community benefit. He urged lobbying for some tax benefits for physicians who meet community benefit criteria. Other ideas he presented include taking steps to ensure CBR reports include a) details regarding social determinants of health and affirmative steps taken to meet the needs of underserved populations and b) a community benefit effectiveness measure – the ratio of benefit created/tax benefit received.

 
 

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