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Hill-Burton Act Today


The Hill-Burton Act is a federal law from 1946 by the United States Congress. The drive behind the new legislation was to promise loans and to supply grants to work on improvement amongst the country’s hospital organizations.

States split the funds and then allotted the money to the various facilities. Part of the law rotates funds throughout different hospital facilities so that there is an even distribution of funds.

The Goal Behind the Hill-Burton Act

The goal behind the federal law of the Hill-Burton Act was to provide health care facilities money to construct and modernize. Also, any of the facilities getting funding had to offer unique financial care to any low-income patients, even including free health care.

This federal law has been a huge sigh of relief for tens of thousands of patients per year.

Hill-Burton Facilities

Nationwide there are about 300 Hill-Burton health care facilities that still offer health care at a low or free cost to patients. Several states don’t provide any facilities at all; however, there are still many states that do have Hill-Burton facilities.

To qualify for free or low-cost care, patients must apply for financial assistance at the health care facility.

Here is a list of the few states that currently don’t offer Hill-Burton health care facilities:

  • Alaska
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

How Can I Locate Hill-Burton Facilities

The Health Resources and Services Administration has a complete list of Hill-Burton facilities by state. The best thing to do is call your facility to ensure that funds are available, and services have coverage at that specific facility.

Who Benefits from the Hill-Burton Act

It’s safe to say that both health care facilities and patients can benefit from this program.

Income Requirements

To get coverage through Hill-Burton, patients must meet the income requirements. Also, if a patient’s income is right at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines, they may qualify for free or reduced care.

Even if a patient’s income is as much as twice the HHS Poverty Guidelines, and three times as much the Poverty Guidelines when utilizing nursing home facilities.

How Do Patients Apply for Financial Assistance

Just because a patient gets care at a Hill-Burton facility, doesn’t mean that they’re going to qualify for financial assistance through the program necessarily.

Patients will undergo an application process to find out if they do qualify.

Individuals will apply in person at their health care facility’s admissions department or the billing department.

The next step of the qualifications process is allowing the proper department to review your financial position to see if you qualify for either free or reduced-cost care.

You can apply for coverage before or after you get medical treatment or if your medical bills have been sent forward to a debt collector.

It’s important to check directly with your hospital or nursing facility to find out if they have their regulations for the program. Some centers may require additional documentation like proof of residency or proof of monthly incomes.

Services Covered Under the Hill-Burton Act

Even with Hill-burton’s help, every patient should know that it’s entirely possible that not every medical bill will have coverage. The facility’s costs have coverage, but the patient’s doctor’s fees won’t.

Depending on what the patient’s locality is, amounts could drastically vary.

Each health care facility has its own set of regulations as to which services they’ll cover under the Hill-Burton Act. Also, Hill-Burton won’t help a patient that has Medicare or Medicaid or a private insurance company.

Hill-Burton’s help is strictly for low-income people or those with not enough insurance.

The hospital or nursing home facility will give the Hill-Burton patient a set of documents that go over services. These are the services in which the patient will be able to get assistance.

Services available in any of the following types of facilities:

  • General hospitals
  • Specialty hospitals
  • Nursing home centers
  • Rehab centers
  • Public health departments or centers

Hill-Burton Today

Many people argue whether the Hill-Burton Act is still essential today. At the start of the bill; its sole purpose was to provide hospitals that were small and lacking critical equipment to construct hospitals and modernize facilities across the country.

Hospitals were built in areas with growing populations. At the start of the act, it was inclusive for patients to obtain healthcare, there was a sense of “separate but equal” segregation within the facilities; a negative attribution of the Act for many.

Today many individuals look at the construction of even more hospitals as unnecessary. They’d rather see a complete overhaul of today’s health care facilities and health care processes is needed.

Officials have indicated the requirement of funds for Telehealth equipment in these modern times of seemingly limitless technology to help enable video conferencing and virtual appointments.

Many doctors and patients feel that care should be provided within the comforts of patient’s homes and workplaces.

They feel as though patients should have better access to virtual health care.

While many feel that the construction of hospitals is the top priority, some feel that completely restructuring and creating a modern-age Hill-Burton Act is the way to go.

One thing seems to be common ground between all opinions on the Hill-Burton act; healthcare is a priority amongst all citizens, whether they’re patients utilizing hospital facilities, health care workers, or members of the federal government.

Lindsay Malzone

Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ. She has been working in the Medicare industry since 2017. She is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare. You can also find her over on our Medicare Channel on YouTube as well as contributing to our Medicare Community on Facebook.

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