Advocating More Government Control of Healthcare

By IAfrica
In World News
Jul 10th, 2014
  • CHA represents the largest non-profit health care provider in America.
  • Promotes “social justice”
  • Campaign contributions to Democratic politicians have been a subject of controversy.
  • Has supported a Democratic Senate health care bill that would provide taxpayer funding for abortions. 

Established in 1915 as the Catholic Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) is a trade association of hospitals, nursing homes, surgical centers and clinics. It seeks to “advance [America’s] Catholic health ministry”—consisting of more than 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care and other health facilities in all 50 states—“in caring for people and communities” nationwide. CHA’s major areas of focus include the following:

* Advocacy and the Affordable Care Act: Collaborating with advocates from Catholic health systems and facilities across the United States, CHA strives to create “a more just and compassionate health care system” by shaping the content of federal legislation and policies. In particular, the Association has been working for decades on behalf of healthcare reform that “protects life and expands coverage to the greatest possible number of people in our country.” Notably, CHA believes that a larger role for government—rather than for the free market—holds the key to achieving that objective. Thus, by CHA’s reckoning, the Affordable Care Act of 2010—i.e., Obamacare—is “not perfect” but “represents a good start toward providing access to everyone.”

* Diversity & Health Disparities: CHA’s Special Committee on Diversity and Health Disparities advises the Association’s board and staff on how to “ensure that traditionally underrepresented groups have meaningful opportunities for leadership positions.” Moreover, the Committee aims to eliminate “the existence of racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes, access to care, and receipt of quality health care.”

* Environment: Accepting the notion that pollution resulting from human industrial activity contributes heavily to “the escalating problem of global warming, CHA seeks to “reduce the environmental burden of the health care” that its member institutions provide. On the premise that a “substantial body of scientific knowledge [shows that] warming of the climate is unequivocal,” the Association warns that the incidence of “many diseases will surge as the atmosphere heats up.” This is particularly relevant to hospitals, says CHA, given that their high levels of energy usage makes them “major contributors to climate change.”

Catholics in industrialized nations such as the U.S. also have a moral obligation to see themselves as “responsible for the fate of the world’s poor,” says CHA, urging “global solidarity” in aiding the impoverished by means of service and wealth redistribution.

For an overview of additional issues upon which CHA’s work is focused, click here.

Though CHA is formally opposed to abortion, over the years a number of its governing board members have made campaign contributions to pro-abortion Democratic politicians directly involved in the healthcare-reform effort—all of whom have received 100% ratings from abortion-rights organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood. A December 2009 report by, for instance, revealed that CHA Board of Trustees’ members Lloyd Dean, Lindsey Artola, Roslyn Brock, and Alan Yordy had made such financial donations, as had CHA Advocacy & Public Policy Committee officials Joseph Swedish and David Benfer. The beneficiaries of their contributions included such pro-abortion Members of the U.S. House and Senate as Maria Cantwell, Chris Dodd, Peter DeFazio, Rosa DeLauro, Richard Durbin, Gabrielle Giffords, Debbie Halvorson, Joe Lieberman, Patty Murray, Barack Obama, Debbie Stabenow, and Ron Wyden.

When Obamacare was passed in 2010, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and every major pro-life group in America opposed a loophole in the law that clearly left open the possibility of federal funding for abortions. By contrast, CHA, under the leadership of Sister Carol Keehan, its president and chief executive officer since 2005, enthusiastically supported the new statute. For details of how Obamacare failed to unambiguously ban the use of federal money for abortions, click here.

On March 17, 2010, Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Nauman chided Sister Keehan and CHA for being either “incredibly naive or disingenuous” in claiming that Obamacare expressly forbade the use of government funds for abortions. According to Nauman, CHA’s position “provides cover for any member of the House who chooses to buckle under the pressure of the President and the Democratic leadership to accept government funding of abortion.” Such legislators “can now defend themselves by pointing out that Catholic Health Care leaders recommended they vote for the bill,” Nauman added.

Deal Hudson, director of the Morley Institute, attributed CHA’s support for Obamacare to an “apparent vested interest in seeing the bill passed,” since the Association “would receive federal money for its hospitals” to perform abortions. Along the same lines, Jack Smithat of The Catholic Key Blog characterized CHA as a “trade organization” with “a vested financial interest in the outcome of the health care debate.”

In 2012 the Obama administration fulfilled USCCB’s earlier prediction when it announced that the Affordable Care Act would not exempt religious organizations from its mandate that all employee healthcare policies provide coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients. Initially, CHA joined the Catholic Bishops in condemning the mandate. But eventually the Association negotiated with the Obama administration to achieve a so-called “accommodation” whereby religious organizations would not have to offer plans that included contraceptive/abortifacient coverage. Instead, insurers would be required to provide such coverage free-of-charge, and separate from their healthcare policies, to any female enrollees who wanted it. The Bishops noted that this bargain was meaningless, given that the hidden cost of the “free” contraceptives would obviously be passed on to consumers. Nevertheless, Sister Keehan said that CHA was “very pleased with the … resolution … that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions.

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