Graphic: Arrow Join Now! Graphic: Arrow MY AFP Profile Graphic: Arrow AFP Canada Graphic: Arrow AFP Mexico Graphic: Star MAKE A GIFT







Print PRINT Share SHARE Comment COMMENT

Important Notice: Congress Puts Healthcare Fundraising in Jeopardy

*UPDATE: Senate removes provision from its version of the bill!

(Feb. 9, 2009) A troubling provision in the House-passed economic stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) would prevent hospital foundations from contacting prior patients and asking for donations.

Last Friday, AFP sent letters to Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader, urging them to oppose the provision.

“It is vital that nonprofit hospitals and other healthcare providers continue to access potential donors because healthcare institutions rely upon private donations to fulfill their charitable mission, continue and expand their programs, and advance the field of medicine,” wrote Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “In these challenging economic times, private philanthropy has never been more important for healthcare institutions.”

In response to feedback from AFP and others, the Senate removed this provision from its version of the bill today. This obviously is great news!

However, the provision remains in the House-passed version of the bill, so our work is not done.

We still must weigh in with Congress to ensure that the provision is stripped from the bill when the House and Senate meet in conference to reconcile the differences between their two bills.

Background/Urgency

Section 4406(b) of the House-passed version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R.1) would prevent hospital foundations from contacting prior patients for philanthropic purposes (as is currently allowed) through an amendment to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). By prohibiting nonprofit hospitals and other healthcare organizations from contacting these patients, this change likely will inhibit the fundraising activities of these organizations. 

If you or your organization would be affected by this provision, we urge you to contact your Member of Congress and two Senators immediately to ensure that the provision is stripped from the House-version of the bill when the Senate and House meet to reconcile the differences between their two bills.

Okay, what do I do now?

Detailed instructions are below:

 1.      Identify your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators.  Use this link and type in your zip code to determine your U.S. Representative: http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html. Use this link to determine your two U.S. Senators: U.S. Senators by State

2.      Call the Congressional switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to speak to your House Member or Senator.

3.      Use the following talking points:

  • Say that you are calling from the Senator’s state or the Representative’s district. Please tell them your hometown.
  • Ask the Member of Congress to oppose the provision in the economic stimulus package that would prevent hospital foundations from contacting prior patients for philanthropic purposes. The provision is found in section 4406(b) of the House-passed version American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Urge the Member of Congress to remove this provision when the House and Senate meet in conference to reconcile the differences between their two versions of the bill.
  • Explain that this policy change is in direct opposition to the intent of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) when it originally drafted HIPAA.  At the time, there was much discussion about the role of fundraising, as well as significant input from a variety of parties.  In the end, the HHS recognized that fundraising activities of nonprofit healthcare institutions are essential to the country’s healthcare system and, therefore, included fundraising in the definition of healthcare operations.
  • State that nonprofit hospitals and healthcare systems received $8.35 billion from generous donors in 2007 according to the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy’s Report on Giving 2007.  That same survey found that 83 percent of all donors were individuals, including prior patients.  It is only logical that people who have been helped by these institutions would want to consider supporting them. 
  • Finally, emphasize that your organization and many people in your state are counting on the Member to protect nonprofit healthcare organizations by opposing this provision.  [Mention the potential impact on your organization and/or your surrounding community].

4.      Mail three letters, one each to your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators.

5.      Cut and paste the sample letter below into your word processing software and personalize it with your own information (places where you can include your personal information are indicated in bold in the sample letter below):

a.  the Representative’s or Senator’s name and salutation
b.  your name and address
c.  a line or two about the impact the provision would have upon your organization.
d.  any other information you would like to add about your organization and its impact upon the community.

Sample Letter

DATE

For U.S. Representative, use:

Dear Representative LAST NAME:
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

For U.S. Senators, use:

Dear Senator LAST NAME:
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510

As a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and a constituent, I urge you to oppose a troubling provision in House-passed version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1) that would prevent nonprofit healthcare institutions from raising the critical funds that sustain their charitable missions and programs.  It is imperative that this provision is removed when the House and Senate meet in conference.

AFP represents more than 30,000 individuals who are responsible for raising money ethically and effectively for a wide variety of charities—from large multi-national institutions to small grassroots organizations—engaged in countless missions and causes.  AFP members are required annually to sign our Code of Ethical Principles and Standards, the only enforced code of fundraising ethics in North America. 

Section 4406(b) of the House-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would prevent hospital foundations from contacting prior patients for philanthropic purposes, something that currently is allowed by law.  This language would amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to deny nonprofit hospitals and other healthcare providers access to names and addresses of patients in their own institutions. This change would dramatically affect my organization.

Nonprofit hospitals and healthcare systems received $8.35 billion from generous donors in 2008 according to the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy’s Report on Giving 2007.  That same survey found that 83 percent of all donors were individuals, including prior patients.  It is only logical that people who have been helped by these institutions would want to consider supporting them.  Prohibiting nonprofit hospitals and other healthcare organizations from contacting prior patients for philanthropic purposes would put these funds in jeopardy.  [Mention the potential impact on your organization and/or your community].

The very purpose of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is to spur economic prosperity during these challenging economic times, yet passing this provision would actually impair the work of nonprofit hospitals and other healthcare organizations and weaken their ability to raise much-needed funds for their charitable missions.

For these reasons and for the sake of our nonprofit healthcare organizations, I strongly urge you to oppose this provision and remove it when the House and Senate meet in conference.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

4300 Wilson Blvd, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203 • 703-684-0410 | 800-666-3863 | Fax: 703-684-0540
©2009 AFP. This site content may not be copied, reproduced or redistributed without prior written
permission from the Association of Fundraising Professionals or its affiliates.
Privacy Policy | Feedback | Contact Us | Advertise with Us