Epilepsy Talk

The Hill-Burton Act: The Government’s Best-Kept Secret | September 15, 2019

Years ago, two men with the last names of Hill and Burton created a bill which assists people with medical expenses, unable to pay them. It’s only for people of limited financial means.

However, if you Google “Hill-Burton Act” or go to https://www.hrsa.gov/get-health-care/affordable/hill-burton/facilities.html you’ll find a gold mine of information about who qualifies, which facilities are obligated to provide free or reduced-cost health care and how to apply.

The Act is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and authorizes assistance to public and other nonprofit medical facilities such as acute care general hospitals, special hospitals, nursing homes, public health centers, and rehabilitation facilities.

There are several basic requirements that every Hill-Burton hospital or other facility must comply with to fulfill the community service obligation:

1. A person residing in the Hill-Burton facility’s service area has the right to medical treatment at the facility without regard to race, color, national origin or creed.

2. Hill-Burton facilities must participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs unless they are ineligible to participate.

3. Hill-Burton facilities must make arrangements for reimbursement for services with principal state and local third-party payors that provide reimbursement no less than the actual cost of the services.

4. A Hill-Burton facility must post notices informing the public of its community service obligations in English and Spanish. If 10 percent or more of the households in the service area usually speak a language other than English or Spanish, the facility must translate the notice into that language and post it as well.

5. A Hill-Burton facility may not deny emergency services to any person residing in the facility’s service area on the grounds that the person is unable to pay for those services.

6. A Hill-Burton facility may not adopt patient admissions policies that have the effect of excluding persons on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed or any other ground unrelated to the patient’s need for the service or the availability of the needed service.

By 2000, the Hill-Burton Act dispensed more than $4.6 billion as well as $1.5 billion in loans to nearly 6,800 healthcare facilities in over 4,000 communities, which in turn provided free or reduced charged services to persons unable to pay for them.

The number of total obligated facilities as of 2018 was 135. However, there are no obligated facilities in Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming and all the territories except Puerto Rico.

To find the closest Hill-Burton facility, click on: https://www.hrsa.gov/get-health-care/affordable/hill-burton/facilities.html

NOTE: If there is no Hill-Burton Obligated Facility nearby and you owe bills or need care — contact the Department of Social Services at the hospital where you were or intend to be treated and your County Department of Social Services to see if they can help you.

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1 Comment »

  1. Never heard of this. Great information. Thanks


    Comment by Flower Roberts — September 17, 2019 @ 6:14 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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