Wednesday, December 16, 2009

US Health Care Reform and Catholic Organizations

The scenario—rife with politics unaligned with Catholic teaching—is unwrapped by Anne Hendershott in Catholic World Report.

An excerpt.

“The battle over health care reform promises to be the most expensive one ever waged in Congress, as armies of lobbyists advance on Washington to demand that new legislation reflect their interests. Recognizing the high stakes involved, hospitals, drug companies, unions, and a host of health care providers ranging from medical device makers to Planned Parenthood have spent nearly $400 million on lobbying. All have a vested interest in “fixing” health care to their advantage.

“One of the most visible activists involved in shaping health care reform is Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), an advocacy organization that represents the interests of Catholic hospitals and large Catholic health care organizations throughout the country. Catholic hospitals and health care facilities pay dues to the CHA, whose stated mission is “to promote the Catholic Church’s ministry in health care and to respond to the members’ need to practice quality health care in the communities where they serve.”

“In an attempt to fulfill this mission, Sr. Keehan has been out on the front lines advocating for health care reform from the earliest days of the Obama administration. On what side of the debate Sr. Keehan’s CHA falls, however, has been unclear and a source of concern given that all reform proposals before November permitted an expansion of abortion rights.

“Throughout the summer of 2009, the CHA created confusion by issuing unclear communications and producing videos that appeared to many people to be supportive of the president’s health care plans.

“The CHA’s communications were so unclear that throughout the month of August, most media outlets reported that the CHA unequivocally supported President Obama’s health care plan. David D. Kirkpatrick, a New York Times reporter, was so convinced that the CHA and Catholic Charities USA strongly supported the president’s health plan that he published an article on August 28 declaring just that. Although the New York Times corrected that article on its website on August 29, claiming that its reporter “overstated the support of Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association for the president’s plans,” the Times maintains in the revised article that “both organizations have supported his [the president’s] overall approach.”