Virginia hospitals and health systems provided more than $3.2 billion in community support to the Commonwealth in 2019, according to the newly released 2021 Annual Report on Community Benefit from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA).

The Community Benefit report is an important opportunity to highlight the substantial community contributions, public health and safety investments, and economic impact Virginia’s local hospitals and health systems make each day. These contributions include the provision of essential health services to support community well-being, extensive free and discounted care provided to patients without insurance or the means to pay for care, and many other programs that support health care access, critical and often under-funded health services, and promote quality of life. This past year, Virginia hospitals have further demonstrated their service to the community as the frontline of defense against the serious public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past year has served as a reminder of the essential role hospitals and health systems have in providing necessary care and in keeping communities healthy, vital, and prosperous,” said VHHA President and CEO, Sean T. Connaughton. “While hospitals contribute so much to our economy, they are also cornerstones of public health. This is never more apparent than when society faces large-scale challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It is in these moments, and all the moments before and after such crises, that hospitals demonstrate how beneficial they are to the communities they serve.”

In 2019, community benefit, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), totaled nearly $1.52 billion. Along with other forms of community support including Medicare losses, taxes paid, and bad debt expenses absorbed by Virginia hospitals, the total benefit to Virginia communities in 2019 exceeded $3.2 billion. These figures do not include the hundreds of millions Virginia hospitals are investing each year to fund the Commonwealth’s share of Medicaid expansion costs. Since expanded coverage took effect in 2019, more than 510,000 Virginians have enrolled in the program.

Virginia hospitals have also made significant adjustments to their operations to respond to the deadly COVID-19 global pandemic that as of early 2021 has claimed nearly 380,000 American lives and caused more than 1.9 million deaths across the globe. Virginia hospitals have treated more than 33,000 patients who have contracted the virus and have made significant investments to increase capacity and acquire new supplies and therapeutics while serving on the frontlines of the pandemic. Through the first six months of 2020, Virginia hospitals experienced more than $1.8 billion in revenue losses associated with the pandemic.

In addition to the $3.2 billion in community benefit, Virginia hospitals provide more than 132,000 direct jobs with more than $8.5 billion in payroll and benefits, and hospitals generate roughly $40 billion in annual economic impact for the Commonwealth. Local hospitals in Virginia treat the uninsured, under-insured, those with commercial insurance, and other patients regardless of ability to pay.

Hospitals support free clinics, mobile treatment programs, and free health screenings. They provide prescription drug assistance, transportation, and many other programs and initiatives beneficial to the community.

These same hospitals also provide substantial subsidies to clinical services such as trauma centers and neonatal units. They support the education of future nurses, doctors, and other health care providers. And even in challenging times, they continue to earn recognition for top performance in emergency preparedness, patient safety, and health care quality.

For instance, Virginia tied for second among states in overall emergency preparedness rating in the 2020 National Health Security Preparedness Index report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Colorado School of Public Health.

In the Trust for America’s Health – Ready or Not 2020 Annual Report on Emergency Preparedness, Virginia is among the states rated in the highest tier for emergency preparation. Virginia also ranked among the top six states for patient safety in the Fall 2020 Hospital Safety Grade scores from the Leapfrog Group, a national health care patient safety ranking organization.