CHNA is an abbreviation for Community Health Needs Assessment.
In its simplest forms, a CHNA is a government required healthcare strategic plan for the community that all non-profit [501(c)(3)] hospitals have to develop, file and publicize. It allows readers to compare the projected health care needs of a population with the current services available. Combined, these elements can be used to strategize and efficiently meet the community’s health care challenges.
It sounds like a lot of work, but hospitals in many states, like California and Illinois, have been working on some version of CHNAs and submitting them to the state for years. Part strategic plan, part grounding rod, CHNAs have been used to re-new certificates of need and tax-exempt status in many jurisdictions and as ways to justify more direct public or philanthropic support of a hospital.
More recently, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) requires tax-exempt hospitals to create CHNAs every three years at risk of losing their preferential status and being penalized with hefty fines.
The ACA also requires that tax-exempt hospitals develop action plans to address any healthcare deficiencies or inefficiencies revealed during the research for a CHNA.
The CHNA portion of the ACA will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) based on regulations the agency develops and will eventually publish in the Federal Register.