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Allison: Charity care key to Baylor Scott & White mission

Doctor holding heart

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made. James Stewart, as George Bailey, is shown by his guardian angel what his hometown of Bedford Falls would be like if he had never been born.

It is interesting to imagine what it would be like if a hospital system such as Baylor Scott & White Health did not exist. Nonprofit health care organizations such as ours represent the cornerstone of the U.S. hospital system, accounting for nearly three-out-of-four American hospital beds.

In Texas, Baylor Scott & White is the largest health care provider with more than 5,200 licensed beds and 500-plus access points. In fact, we treat a patient population equivalent in size to the state of Virginia.

Hospitals are also typically some of the largest employers in the communities they serve, and Baylor Scott & White is no exception. Our organization is among the top five largest private employers in Dallas-Fort Worth and the largest in Temple, Texas, homes to our flagship hospitals.

We are very much committed to serving the community and we continually assess the needs of the communities where we are located.

You may be aware that Texas was one of the first states to establish a required level of community benefit for nonprofit hospitals in exchange for its state tax exemption. Texas nonprofit hospitals must spend at least 5 percent of their net patient revenue on community benefits, of which at least 4 percent must come from charity care and the unreimbursed cost of Medicaid; the other one percent may include the unreimbursed cost of Medicare. “

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In addition, other community benefit activities we provide include community donations to activities related to our mission, public-health education, medical education, research and other subsidized health services, such as the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute in southern Dallas.

During our last fiscal year ending in 2013, Baylor Health Care System gave back to the community 28.4 percent of its non-profit hospital net patient revenue – about $638 million, or nearly six times more than required by Texas state law. Those hundreds of millions were invested into improving access to care, enhancing community health and advancing medical education and technology. It’s an amount equivalent to giving roughly $130 to every adult resident in the 12 counties that make up North Texas.

From September 2012 to August 2013, Scott & White Healthcare gave back more than $223 million in community benefit, or the equivalent of $115 to every adult resident in the 33 counties that make up Central Texas. That’s about 18.3 percent of its non-profit hospital net patient revenue, or nearly four times more than required by state law.

Combined, Baylor Scott & White Health entities provided $861 million in community benefit in the last reporting year. And our commitment to service will only continue to grow as we grow.

While we are working to expand and develop into one of the best-known and well-respected hospital systems in the country, we never lose sight of our responsibility to the communities we’ve served in this state for the past 100-plus years.

This blog post was first published on D Healthcare Daily.

About the author

Joel Allison
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Joel Allison is a special advisor to the chairman of the Baylor Scott & White Holdings Board of Trustees. He was previously president and CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health. He's been a leader in the health care industry for more than four decades, and he's been on Modern Healthcare magazine’s annual “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” list since 2004. He's a huge Baylor Bears fan, a fisherman and a proud grandfather of six.

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Allison: Charity care key to Baylor Scott & White mission