3 Catholic Hospitals To Close Allegedly Because Of Obamacare?

CatholicVote is mounting a campaign to bring attention to 3 Catholic Hospitals that are closing. The CEO said that ObamaCare “absolutely” factored into the decision.

This is certainly a troubling concern, made more so by the allegations that the White House, the local media, and Sr. Keehan have tried their best to quiet the story.

However, one has to be cautious. The report that CV apparently relies on is based on a doctor’s opinion-a doctor that does not appear to have any knowledge of the actual discussions at the hospitals in question. This unnamed doctor alleges that it is due to Obamacare restricting the ability of the hospital to collect Medicare reimbursements and thereby making its debt unbearable.

Presuming this is the case, the hospital is closing not b/c it cannot carry out healthcare in a Catholic way but because Obamacare has diminished hospital returns to make the hospital not profitable enough. While hospitals having trouble paying off their debts due in part Obamacare is an important concern, all it is really pointing out is that Obamacare was an imprudent measure as it actually hurt healthcare. It is not showing that Obamacare has made it impossible to remain a truly Catholic hospital.

To me, a hospital heavily in debt that can now no longer support those debts is not that troubling. If it could be shown that this is a widespread situation, and that this hospital’s debts were usual in the industry, then there would be great concern regarding whether it was prudent to pass obamacare.

It is puzzling therefore to see CV arguing that this requires “pro-life alternatives” in November as “it is becoming more and more difficult for Catholics to have access to ethical health care.” It seems the proper response based on that criticism is that we need more fiscally conservative alternatives in November, as it is more and more difficult for anyone to have access to healthcare as it has become economically unfeasible for many hospitals.

Pro-lifers and Catholics in the medical field have enough to be worried about from Obamacare. The funding for abortion and lack of conscience protection are extremely troubling as the bishops pointed out seemingly ad nauseum to Catholics bent on passing healthcare reform regardless of costs. While Obamacare has its prudential/fiscal issues as well, it’s important to keep the two separate. A bill can be bad for many reasons, but it diminishes the strength of the pro-life cause if pro-life is casually equated with fiscally conservative. Obamacare could lead to twenty more hospitals and still be a bad law; let’s not choose the lesser objections over the greater.

8 Responses to 3 Catholic Hospitals To Close Allegedly Because Of Obamacare?

  1. Linus says:

    I agree with the overall gist of your post but I feel obliged to say that “unbearable debt” and “not profitable enough” are two quite different financial states. Your use of the phrase “not profitable enough” seems intended to imply that greed might be a factor. Exactly how much debt should Americans, catholic or otherwise, have rammed down their throats before they resist? Should we wait until the Greek debt crisis, with its concomitant violent civil unrest, looks like amateur hour compared to our own economic collapse? I do however agree that pro-life issues are a separate issue, and even more important, in this particular context.

  2. Linus says:

    Ugh, pardon my grammatical pratfall in that last sentence. Hopefully my point still came through.

  3. Your use of the phrase “not profitable enough” seems intended to imply that greed might be a factor.

    I understand why you might think that, though it was not intentional. I only meant “not profitable” enough in order to have the resources to pay back its debt. I’m not accusing the hospital of short-changing patients in order to make a bigger buck somewhere else.

  4. Phillip says:

    While Obamacare may not be a factor in the hospitals’ decisions, I can tell you non-profit hospitals are very afraid of what health care reform will do to revenues.

    The cover of a hospital administration magazine recently had its cover story about the potential threat to non-profits that health care reform holds. The cover photo was of a Catholic hospital.

  5. Phillip says:

    Here’s from the CEO of the involved hospitals:

    “”Actually we’re doing well. We’re ahead of budget for the year. It’s more that when we look out over the landscape of health care over the next five years and the needs of these facilities, the needs of this community, we understand a different level of investment will be needed than what we can do on our own,” Cook said.

    They said much of that required investment is the result of the health care reform bill passed in Washington.

    The CEO said it means the need for more spending and less federal reimbursements.

    “Health care reform is absolutely playing a role. Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely,” Cook added.”

  6. Philip:

    Do you have a link for that quote?

    I’m a little confused by the quote, but it sounds like the hospitals think they’re required to expand services/facilities and combined with the other investment the hospital needs to do, the budget isn’t there so they want to bring in private investment to take over so the investment in the community can occur.

    While that may be a little more damning of Obamacare, it’s still a very tenuous connection. After all, they say the planning began before Obamacare, suggesting that much of the investment couldn’t be afforded even if Obamacare was passed.

    Regardless, CV needs to produce a lot more evidence before making the claims it’s making. A sentence quote isn’t enough.

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