Essential hospitals share a mission to ensure all people, regardless of their social and economic circumstances, can access high-quality health care. They operate in a broad variety of communities — from expansive rural regions to the nation’s largest cities, all facing significant social and economic needs. Essential hospitals serve communities in great need, where:
- 360,000 individuals struggle with homelessness;
- 10 million people have limited access to nutritious food;
- 23.9 million individuals live below the poverty line; and
- more than 17 million are uninsured.
Studies show social risk factors — employment, food insecurity, housing instability, access to transportation, and others — can create barriers to a healthy lifestyle and lead to poor health care outcomes.
Essential hospitals partner with local organizations and agencies to confront social determinants of health and improve life for vulnerable patients and underserved communities. Without essential hospitals, people in these communities would lack the support and services they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
Congress therefore must act to preserve the federal support essential hospitals rely on to fulfill their mission of care for all, such as Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments and the 340B Drug Pricing Program.