The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires nonprofit hospitals to conduct an assessment of the health needs of the people in the community they serve and take steps toward addressing those needs. Hospitals are required to consult with community members in this process, including those with expertise in public health. Many state and local health departments (HDs) are also conducting community health needs assessments similar to those required of nonprofit hospitals as part of a voluntary accreditation process or as a requirement to receive continued funding. Because nonprofit hospitals and HDs have similar goals and often serve similar people, the ACA community health needs assessment requirement represents an opportunity for collaboration between HDs and nonprofit hospitals.
This issue brief outlines the community health needs assessment (CHNA) requirement for nonprofit hospitals and suggests ways in which public health agencies and hospitals may be able to combine resources to address CHNAs to improve the health of the people in the communities in which they serve.