Extinct Species: Dinosaurs And Catholic Health Care

Recent events have pointed out a very frightening scenario in the Catholic health care arena. I suspect that Catholic health care, as envisioned by those who first established it in America, has come to an untimely end. If this is so, it is thanks in no small measure to the weakness of those in leadership positions, not only within the religious orders that operate many of these establishments, but within the hierarchy as well.

We recently learned, for example, that Pennsylvania’s third congressional district congresswoman, Catholic Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper, who is seeking her second term, is arguing that abortion funding does not exist in the Obama health care law. She says that anyone who disagrees is simply “lying.”

In an opinion piece, Deal Hudson points out that this stance started with Sister Carol Keehan, Catholic Health Association president, telling the nation that abortion was not going to be paid for in Obama’s health care law. She was wrong then and she is wrong now. Even the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that abortion is, in fact, paid for under Obama Care.

So what has the USCCB done to reprimand Keehan and make sure she no longer speaks for the CHA? Not a thing!

In Scranton, Pennsylvania, three Catholic hospitals—identified as the Mercy Health Partners—are now up for sale. The Washington Examiner reports, “Incredibly, the hospitals are doing well financially, but according to the hospital owners, the new requirements brought on by the new health care legislation makes it hard for them to stay in the hospital business.”

Responding to this sad news from Scranton, American Spectator reporter Jeffrey Lord quotes Sister Keehan who claims, “Reports that health reform is the primary motive behind the sale are completely false, misleading and politically motivated. Deliberations to sell the facilities began well before the Affordable Care Act became law and did not hinge on enactment of the legislation.”

In the aftermath of Sister Keehan’s disclaimer, the CEO for Mercy Health Partners in Scranton, Kevin Cook, backed down and retracted his original statements tying Obama Care to the closing of the three hospitals.

Could it be that the politics of Obama Care have more to do with Catholic hospitals, their identity and their future than meets the eye? Nobody can say, but there are suspicious things going on, not only in Pennsylvania but in Boston, Massachusetts, as well.

Many pro-life Catholics are aware of the beleaguered Catholic leadership among the laity in Boston. The Catholic Action League has been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi Health Care System after it was sold to Cerberus in a deal approved by Cardinal O’Malley of Boston. It would seem, however, that its efforts are failing and that soon that hospital system will no longer be known as a Catholic entity. 

Also in Boston, we find that the director of communications for the Archdiocese of Boston is Mr. Terry Donilon, who has family ties to the Obama administration. Donilon was elevated to that post by Cardinal Sean O’Malley in April of 2005. Recently, his brother, Thomas Donilon, was appointed by President Barack Obama to the post of national security advisor. Tom Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is Jill Biden’s chief of staff. And Terry’s brother, Michael, is counselor to Joe Biden.

Are these relationships a coincidence or is it yet another example of how accommodations to the Democratic establishment can lead to bigger things for those willing to accommodate the resulting temptation to evil—be it taxpayer dollars or power lunches?

While I could continue down this road and examine the state of Catholic hospitals in every locale nationwide, we need not do that to observe the obvious facts about government funding versus Catholic health care principles. The two simply do not mix.

The government always has its share of rules and regulations that govern how funding is allocated and what sort of recipients qualify. Understanding that the vast majority of Catholic hospitals in the United States have access to federal funds says a lot about why Catholic health care is becoming extinct.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that the one thing that defines Catholic hospitals is the “unselfish work of the men and women who minister to the sick as to the Person of Christ Himself.”

If this is so, as it should be, then one thing is certain. No health care worker at any level can successfully imitate Christ while at the same time holding out his hand to receive blood money from a government steeped in the business of killing preborn human persons.