Health care and other social service agencies should review and update their charity care or sliding fee scale policies in response to the 2012 Poverty Guidelines published in late January by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published updated federal poverty guidelines for 2012. See here. Today, the U.S. Department of Labor followed up by releasing its updated 2012 Poverty Guidelines
Many federal programs use the federal poverty guidelines as one criterion for federal program eligibility. For example, the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) programs determine eligibility largely on the basis of whether the applicant’s income is below the federal poverty guidelines. Other programs determine financial eligibility based on a percentage or multiplier of the federal poverty guidelines (for example, 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines). In addition, the federal poverty guidelines are used in the immigration context, such as the required Affidavit of Support.
For 2012, the federal poverty guideline in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C., for a family of 4 is 23,050. For each additional person, the poverty guideline goes up by $3,960. Alaska and Hawaii have slightly higher poverty guidelines.
Many health care and social services organizations, especially non-profit organizations, use a sliding fee scale or fee waiver based on the federal poverty guidelines. In addition, many health care organizations base their charitable care policies on the federal poverty guidelines. While use of the federal poverty guidelines is not mandated by law except by federally funded programs, keep in mind that the Joint Commission as part of its accreditation and survey process may ask whether the organization has used the most recent update to the federal poverty guidelines in its sliding scale or fee waiver policies. Therefore, if your organization will be surveyed in the near future, you should review the charity care or fee waiver policies as part of your preparation for the survey.
For More Information Or Assistance
If you need help reviewing or responding to health care related policy, risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to set up and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.
A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns.
Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need help responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to get information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.
If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see here.
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Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:
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©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press. All other rights reserved.