In response to the article "Calif. gets tougher on charity care" (Oct. 10, p. 22), while the recent legislation that was passed in the state presents hospitals with an interesting challenge, the reporter is incorrect in the statement that California is "the first state in the nation to require not-for-profit hospitals to draft and implement community-benefits plans and to make those plans available to the public."
For the past three years the New York Legislature has required each hospital in the state to complete an annual community-service plan. Identical to the community-benefits plans described in the article on California, New York hospitals' plans require an annual update of the facility's mission statement; completion of a community-needs assessment; documentation of community involvement in the development of the plan; a quantitative analysis of the extent to which a hospital goes above and beyond its traditional role as acute-care provider; and a specific plan for communicating this information to the community.
Regardless of the intent of the legislation-either as a means of looking into the tax-exempt status of hospitals or as a legitimate way of holding hospitals accountable to their communities-Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Memorial Medical Center has viewed its plan as an opportunity to promote its community-service activities. My advice to California hospitals is to consider it an opportunity, not a threat.
TIMOTHY A. GLEASON
Vice president, marketing and planning
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center