The Healthcare Financial Management Association said it has learned the Financial Accounting Standards Board, Norwalk, Conn., is considering a change that would require all healthcare organizations to conform to the same financial accounting and reporting standards.
The HFMA, which for 10 years has been seeking consistency in reporting and accounting standards for all healthcare providers, urged members to write FASB to emphasize their support for such a change.
The move would require governmental healthcare organizations that are under the jurisdiction of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board to conform to FASB standards.
FASB is an independent board responsible for establishing and interpreting generally accepted accounting principles. GASB performs the same functions for the government sector, such as state, local and county hospitals.
Moving to a single set of standards would make it easier to compare the financial performance of healthcare providers that now play by separate sets of rules. "It really does boil down to common ground, so when people make comparisons, there's not a flaw in the logic," said Bill Tillett, a healthcare industry director in Ernst & Young's Atlanta office.
Debbie Harrington, manager of public relations for FASB and GASB, said no change is imminent. Discussions have focused on the "jurisdiction question and how we can make it better," she said, adding that it's "still under discussion and not even a proposal at this point."
But Patricia Hlavinka, the HFMA's administrator of policy and government relations, said it's the first time FASB has notified the 33,000-member HFMA that it's considering such a change. "We've been fighting for this since 1984, when GASB was created," she said.
FASB and GASB reporting standards differ in areas such as the valuation of marketable securities, accounting for pensions, consolidation of entities and accounting for the effects of debt refunding.