Limited staffing represents the most significant challenge to not-for-profit community benefit programs, according to a survey by the Catholic Health Association and group purchasing organization and consulting company VHA. Confusion over how community benefits fit into tax-exempt health systems priorities ranked No. 2, followed by financial constraints, according to the survey. The trio of challenges ranked as the top three concerns for the fourth successive survey, which has been conducted every two years since 2002.
Roughly three-quarters said community benefit programs expanded during the past three years, and the trend is expected to continue for at least three years. Slightly fewer than 10% said the subsidized aid and outreach declined during the last three years. None said programs were expected to shrink in the near future.
Improving access to care has the greatest impact on the community, respondents said, followed by health education and promotion and chronic-care management. Medical and health professional education was considered to be the least beneficial aid provided by tax-exempt organizations.
Respondents were among the more than 200 attendees of a community benefit conference jointly sponsored by CHA and VHA. The study was conducted in conjunction with the conference. The response rate varied by question and ranged from 30% to 81%. -- by Melanie Evans
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