Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report has Pennsylvania reconsidering charity care definition

After a series of articles called "Counting Charity Care" was published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the governor of Pennsylvania has agreed to review the state's definition of charity care, the newspaper reports.

The newspaper received an emailed statement from Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf (D), stating the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services will begin to review the 2010 Medical Assistance Bulletin that defines charity care for hospitals in the state.

The issue raised by the newspaper is in regards to how hospitals make decisions for patients who do not fill out a charity care form. Many hospitals use an algorithm to determine if the patient qualified for charity care based on publicly available data and then submit those claims, according to the report. However, many hospitals do not tell those patients they qualified for charity care and that they are welcome to come back for more free care as they would for a patient who fills out the form, according to the report.

This practice means charity care is not necessarily applied evenly among patients and it does not help patients get access to regular care when they need it, patient advocates say, according to the report.

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