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Sunnyside hospital exceeds state charity standards

The Washington State Hospital Association released revised numbers last week in expanding charity care for moderate income residents.

Sunnyside Community Hospital is familiar with those numbers, providing figures that show they meet or exceed the new standards for charity care.

The state's expanded guidelines, which are voluntary for hospitals, provide a three-tiered approach:

1. All patients meeting the federal poverty level-$20,000 in annual income for a family of four, for example-receive free care.

2. Uninsured patients earning between 100 to 200 percent of the poverty level, $40,000 for a family of four, will be given a discount calculated so, on average, the most these patients will be asked to pay is the cost of care at the hospital.

3. Uninsured patients with limited assets between 200 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($60,000 for a family of four) also qualify for a discount calculated so, on average, these patients are asked to pay what an insured patient may pay.

Sunnyside Community Hospital employs a four-tiered system for charity care consideration.

Uninsured patients that earn up to 125 percent of the federal poverty level can be eligible for a 100 percent write-off. Those between 126 and 175 percent can have a discount of 75 percent.

The discount drops to 50 percent for those earning between 176 and 225 percent of the poverty level, then to 25 percent for those earning between 226 and 300 percent of the poverty level.

Yolle Guizar, a welfare coordinator for the Sunnyside hospital, said its charity care standards have been in place for the past two years.

In 2006, for example, the hospital wrote off more than $2 million in charity care, according to Sandra Linde, a special projects coordinator with Sunnyside Community Hospital.

The state of Washington does not have a charity care pool to reimburse hospitals for their costs, though Linde said the Sunnyside hospital is working a on a grant application that would help with some of its charity care costs.

"We do support what the state is doing," Linde said of the move towards expanding hospital charity care. "And we are committed to the community."

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