Pandoras Box Has Nothing On Caritas Christi

May 26, 2009 09:00 AM

Pandora’s box: from the box, sent by the gods to Pandora, which she was forbidden to open and which loosed a swarm of evils upon humankind when she opened it out of curiosity.

Most Americans are familiar with the term “Pandora’s box,” but that same percentage has no idea what a “Caritas Christi” is, so this is where my story must begin.

Caritas Christi was “established in 1985 [and is] New England's largest community-based hospital network [and is] a comprehensive, integrated health care delivery network providing community-based medicine and tertiary care in eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island.”

The CC mission statement reads in part

Being part of a Catholic Health Care System means that ours is a ministry with roots in the teachings of the Church and the Gospel message of Jesus. At Caritas Christi, we are not just another provider of health care. We are a continuation of the healing ministry of Jesus. Our Mission and Values are the forces that drive us toward achieving Exceptional Care.

Earlier this year, something changed in the CC dynamic when it announced a joint venture with Centene Corporation in a bid to provide government-subsidized health insurance in Massachusetts. In fact, the announcement sent shock waves through Massachusetts Citizens for Life, which immediately issued a press release stating, 

Massachusetts Citizens for Life sent a letter on Thursday to the President and CEO of Caritas Christi, Dr. Ralph de la Torre, requesting a meeting as soon as possible to address the concerns members of the organization have about the Caritas Christi joint venture with Centene Corporation that offers insurance through the Commonwealth Care Health Plan.
Caritas Christi has said it will provide a full range of family planning services. The public has learned that this terminology is code for abortion and abortion-related services. Mass. Citizens sought the meeting to give Caritas Christi the chance to refute these assumptions and to assure the general public that it would not be providing such services.
Since we have not heard from Dr. de la Torre, Mass. Citizens must regretfully assume that, in fact, Caritas Christi would abandon its twenty-three year commitment to protecting the lives of unborn babies and their mothers.
Our members will be contacting the offices of Caritas individually to express their outrage that Caritas would take this anti-life position.

On March 12, 2009, another shock wave went through the pro-life ranks when Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Family Health Plan announced on March 12 that

[I]t was awarded the contract to manage healthcare services for Commonwealth Care members in Massachusetts. The health plan is a partnership between Celtic Group Inc. (Celtic), a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, and Caritas Christi Health Care (Caritas). Effective July 1, 2009, the health plan will serve the Central, Northern, Boston and Southern regions of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Commonwealth Care program is a health insurance program for low-income, working adults (up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level) who are not eligible for Medicaid or employer-sponsored insurance. There are currently approximately 165,000 Commonwealth Care members.

Commonwealth Family Health Plan is a new, innovative managed care solution that leverages local provider relationships, national managed care experience and Celtic’s expertise in the individual health insurance market. The health plan offers a greater pool of primary care physicians available to Commonwealth Care members, as well as a full spectrum of providers and managed care services to ensure comprehensive access to all benefits required under the Commonwealth Care program.

The facts about this “Commonwealth Plan” are disturbing on a very basic level. The Massachusetts Commonwealth Care plan is the very type of "universal health-care insurance" that President Barack Obama wants to impose on the rest of the country. Indeed, proponents of national health-care insurance always point to the Massachusetts program as a model of a successful plan.

Second, in order to be an approved health-care provider eligible for payment under the Massachusetts plan, the law requires that the hospital must provide the full range of “reproductive services," such as abortion, sterilization, contraception and counseling that recommends such services. All of these things are directly contrary to the teaching of the Church. This is what we have to look forward to from Obama's proposed national plan.

Furthermore, Caritas Christi cannot participate in the approved plan without agreeing to provide the mandatory “reproductive health services” that are in direct violation to Catholic teaching.

In order to avoid the direct provision of immoral services, CC has entered into a partnership with Centene, under which Centene will do all the dirty work and CC will claim that it is not doing anything contrary to the teaching of the Church. While this might sound like a little bit of compromise for the sake of the common good, it is no such thing! Cooperation with evil is not a part of Catholic teaching. It never has been and it never will be.

As a matter of fact, in Massachusetts law, Caritas must provide counseling that includes immoral "reproductive services" and must arrange for patients to receive those immoral services from Centene, even to the point of transporting patients to abortion facilities. Both Caritas and Massachusetts regulators have publicly confirmed this fact as Massachusetts Citizens for Life pointed out.

Furthermore, it is indisputable that, even if Caritas Christi itself does not perform any immoral services, its partnership with Centene means that CC will be profiting from the immoral services rendered by Centene. One can easily come to the conclusion that the entire partnership deal with Centene is driven solely and exclusively by financial motives.

This certainly begs the question, how could a Catholic entity such as Caritas Christi become embroiled in such a fiasco? How many evils will a Catholic health care provider accept as part of a deal that most assuredly was made in Hell?

As Pope John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae, #74,

Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from this responsibility, and on the basis of it everyone will be judged by God Himself (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).

To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right. Were this not so, the human person would be forced to perform an action intrinsically incompatible with human dignity, and in this way human freedom itself, the authentic meaning and purpose of which are found in its orientation to the true and the good, would be radically compromised. What is at stake therefore is an essential right which, precisely as such, should be acknowledged and protected by civil law. In this sense, the opportunity to refuse to take part in the phases of consultation, preparation and execution of these acts against life should be guaranteed to physicians, health-care personnel, and directors of hospitals, clinics and convalescent facilities. Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane.

Could anything be clearer?

So, I ask you, where is Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the one man who could put a stop to the Obama-nization of Catholic health care in Massachusetts?

Tune in tomorrow!

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