The Hill-Burton Act
January 1, 2004 • 1:00AM

by Editorial Staff

Became law on August 13, 1946, as Public Law 725. The official title is, "Hospital Survey and Construction Act," and the document is nine pages in length. The chief sponsor was Sen. Lister Hill (D-Ala.). The act was an amendment to the Public Health Service Act, which authorized grants to the states for surveying their hospitals and public-health centers and for planning construction of additional facilities, and it authorized grants to assist in such construction. The law was extended in several subsequent acts of Congress.
The following are excerpts from 42|U.S.C.|291 et seq., which are, at present, incorporated into current U.S. law by the Hill-Burton Act.

291. Declaration of Purpose

The purpose of this title is

(a) to assist the several States in the carrying out of their programs for the construction and modernization of such public or other nonprofit community hospitals and other medical facilities as may be necessary, in conjunction with existing facilities, to furnish adequate hospital, clinic, or similar services to all their people;

(b) to stimulate the development of new or improved types of physical facilities for medical, diagnostic, preventive, treatment, or rehabilitative services; and

(c) to promote research, experiments, and demonstrations relating to the effective development and utilization of hospital, clinic, or similar services, facilities, and resources, and to promote the coordination of such research, experiments, and demonstrations and the useful application of their results.

291c. General Regulations

The Surgeon General, with the approval of the Federal Hospital Council and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, shall by general regulations prescribe

(a) Priority of projects. The general manner in which the State agency shall determine the priority of projects based on the relative need of different areas lacking adequate facilities of various types for which assistance is available under this part, giving special consideration

(1) in case of projects for the construction of hospitals, to facilities serving areas with relatively small financial resources and, at the option of the State, rural communities;

(2) in the case of projects for the construction of rehabilitation facilities, to facilities operated in connection with a university teaching hospital which will provide an integrated program of medical, psychological,social, and vocational evaluation and services under-competent supervision;

(3) in the case of projects for modernization of facilities, to facilities serving densely populated areas;

(4) in the case of projects for construction or modernization of outpatient facilities, to any outpatient facility that will be located in, and provide services for residents of, an area determined by the Secretary to be a rural or urban poverty area;

(5) to projects for facilities which, alone or in conjunction with other facilities, will provide comprehensive health care, including outpatient and preventive care as well as hospitalization;

(6) to facilities which will provide training in health or allied health professions; and

(7) to facilities which will provide, to a significant extent, for the treatment of alcoholism;

(b) Standards of construction and equipment. General standards of construction and equipment for facilities of different classes and in different types of location, for which assistance is available under this part.

(c) Criteria for determining needs. Criteria for determining needs for general hospital and long-term care beds, and needs for hospitals and other facilities for which aid under this part is available, and for developing plans for the distribution of such beds and facilities;

(d) Modernization. Criteria for determining the extent to which existing facilities, for which aid under his part is available, are in need of modernization; and

(e) State plan requirements. That the State plan shall provide for adequate hospitals, and other facilities for which aid under this part is available, for all persons residing in the State, and adequate hospitals (and such other facilities) to furnish needed services for persons unable to pay therefor. Such regulations may also require that before approval of an application for a project is recommended by a State agency to the Surgeon General for approval under this part, assurance shall be received by the State from the applicant that (1) the facility or portion thereof to be constructed or modernized will be made available to all persons residing in the territorial area of the applicant; and (2) there will be made available in the facility, or portion thereof, to be constructed or modernized, a reasonable volume of services to persons unable to pay therefor, but an exception shall be made if such requirement is not feasible from a financial viewpoint.