CATHOLIC HOSPITAL MERGERS: Group Balks at AMA Proposal
Cardinal Francis George of the Chicago Archdiocese will testify before an American Medical Association committee today in an effort to persuade the association to reject a proposal that would require hospitals offering prenatal care to provide a "full range of reproductive services," including birth control and sterilization, the Chicago Tribune reports. The measure, which does not discuss abortion, was proposed by a group of California doctors who argue that increases in the number of mergers and sales of secular hospitals to Catholic firms has reduced accessibility to reproductive services, particularly in areas where a Catholic facility is the only health care provider. For its part, the Catholic Health Association asserts that the measure interferes with religious freedom, compromises church teachings and is so vaguely written that it could "create laws to 'compel physicians who participate in Medicare and Medicaid' to provide abortions." In addition, the CHA argues that few Catholic hospitals act as the "sole providers" of health services in their communities. But because the AMA "has considerable clout in Washington," the CHA and other church leaders worry that if such a measure is endorsed by the AMA, it could lead to state and federal laws forcing hospitals to provide sterilization procedures as a requirement for receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding. Rev. Michael Place, chief executive of the CHA, said, "If the AMA takes (this) position, it would be a significant detriment to our efforts in Congress" (Japsen, 6/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.