What Is the Hill-Burton Act?


The Hill-Burton Act, or the Hospital Survey and Construction Act, was a federal law passed in 1946, sponsored by Sen. Harold Burton (R-Ohio) and Sen. J. Lister Hill (D-Ala.) that gave grants and loans to hospitals to grow and modernize. In exchange for those grants, hospitals were required to provide services (a "reasonable volume" of care) to all people living in the area, regardless of race or creed, and to help patients who couldn't pay by providing free or reduced-cost care. Hill-Burton hospitals must also participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, post information about their community service obligations in English and Spanish, provide emergency services and maintain unbiased patient admissions policies. Roughly 200 hospitals are still obligated to offer free or reduced-cost care to patients at or below federal poverty guidelines because of their participation in the Hill-Burton program, although the program stopped providing funds in 1997. The bill was, in part, designed to address the shortages of beds in underserved areas, especially across the rural South. Hill's home state of Alabama, for example, created more hospital beds per capita between 1948 and 1970 than any other state besides Mississippi. 

Health Resources and Services Administration, "Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care"((;U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "Medical Treatment in Hill-Burton Funded Healthcare Facilities"((;The Center on Congress at Indiana University((;Encyclopedia of Alabama((

Posted on: March 8, 2013

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