December 6, 2016; St. Louis Today
Over the previous couple of years, NPQ has discussed concerns relating to women’s entry to complete health care in the growing number of Catholic hospitals all through the nation which have emerged due to mergers and alliances with for-revenue hospitals. Now, advocates for women’s health should think about what it is going to imply that Anthony Tersigni, CEO of Ascension, the nation’s largest chain of Catholic hospitals, is scheduled to meet with the Trump transition team this week to weigh in on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Although a primary tenet of Catholic hospitals is to function many individuals as attainable, there are clear guidelines relating to what providers can and can’t be carried out in relation to the unequivocal teachings of Catholicism. These are spelled out in a 12-page doc of Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The requirement mostly related to the Directives is a ban on elective abortion, however the impositions on women’s health care does not end there. The Directives deny emergency contraception for rape victims, non-compulsory tubal ligation (getting “tubes tied” to forestall undesirable pregnancies), even contraception and fertility help.
Under the ACA, women’s health coverage has vastly improved. Not solely are healthcare premiums equitable, however a quantity of providers are coated beneath the Act with no affected person copay required. These embrace entry to mandatory providers that aren’t in keeping with the Catholic Directives, reminiscent of contraceptives of all varieties from hormonal contraception to tubal ligation.
Lois Uttley, director of MergerWatch, signifies that Catholic restrictions on the apply of health care are thought-about solely after merger negotiations have accomplished, clearly putting enterprise success forward of affected person care. Dr. Debra Stulberg, an affiliate professor at the University of Chicago, believes these mergers hinder the physician-affected person relationship: “They agree to do it in the interest of getting the sale through, without realizing that it will tie their doctors’ hands and limit the services their patients can get.” In reality, many docs have carried out workarounds to guarantee their sufferers get the care they want, principally via referrals to outdoors suppliers.
The Catholic hospital mergers of late are analogous to what’s presently occurring with the ACA. While it seems that utterly repealing the Act shall be almost unattainable, gutting the ACA beneath the guise of value financial savings will doubtless happen. As with the mergers, cash shall be thought-about earlier than the influence on affected person care is. And, with the main Catholic hospital government advising coverage, Governor Mike Pence as the proper hand man, and Representative Tom Price as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, this might very nicely imply that essential points of women’s health care underneath the ACA might be on the chopping block.—Sheela Nimishakavi