Friday, March 16, 2012

If Catholic Hospitals Close....

Here is the scenario:
And, where health care is concerned, Catholic institutions are definitely a force to be reckoned with. For example, they provide care to one in six patients treated in the United States every year. During 2010, America's more than 600 Catholic facilities treated well over 100 million patients, including 19 million emergency patients, and 5.5 million inpatients. And much of the care received by these patients was provided at a loss. Of the 5.5 million inpatients treated by these hospitals during 2010, 3.3 million were covered by Medicare or Medicaid, both of which pay less than the amount it costs to provide treatment. Of the 19 million emergency patients treated at Catholic hospitals, a large percentage paid nothing at all.
So, what happens if the Catholic hospitals simply refuse to abandon their principles and decide get out of the health care business? This possibility is not as remote as some may believe. Don't forget what happened in Massachusetts when Catholic charities faced a similar choice relating to adoption. Rather than abandoning their principles they simply stopped offering adoption services. If they take the same course in health care, the effect on our medical delivery system will be disastrous. Not all of the Church's 600 hospitals would disappear, of course. Some would be bought by large for-profit chains, like HCA. Others would be picked up by big not-for-profit systems. But at least a third would probably go out of business.

And that third will consist mostly of rural and inner city hospitals that treat the nation's most vulnerable patients. These institutions will never show a positive bottom line because most of their patients are covered by government insurance or none at all. They are only open at present due to the good graces of the Catholic Church and its members. Once those good graces are withdrawn, there will be no buyers and these hospitals will be forced to shut their doors. Where will their patients go for care? The rural patients will have to travel for hours, in some cases, to access care. And many will die on the way. The inner city patients will go to hopelessly overcrowded safety net hospitals where patients already die in the waiting rooms.

Would the Church really withdraw from U.S. health care? In a recent letter to all the Catholic bishops of the United States, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote, "We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans. We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it." In the same letter, Cardinal Dolan quotes supportive words from the Pope: "We recall the words of our Holy Father Benedict XVI to our brother bishops on their recent ad limina visit: 'Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.'" (Read entire post.)
(Via A Conservative Blog for Peace.) Share

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