Catholic Health Ministry and Advocacy

The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) supports the Catholic health ministry's pursuit of the strategic directions of mission, ethics, and advocacy. As the nation's largest group of not-for- profit sponsors, systems and facilities, the ministry is united to advance its strategic directions, policies, and other issues that are better addressed together rather than as individual organizations. The CHA Board of Trustees, with ongoing ministry input, establishes a framework for our collective agenda that is guided by our mission imperative to achieve common goals.

Careful consideration goes into determining advocacy positions and deciding which issues are most important to Catholic health care and to the communities we serve. Together we have a long history of serving those in need and speaking for those whose voices often go unheard.

When John L Carr, secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressed attendees during the 88th Catholic Health Assembly in Orlando, he offered suggestions for how the ministry should carry out the healing mission of Jesus and help bring about reform of the health care system:

"Advocacy is not optional, but integral; not fringe, but central. This is as much a part of your mission as the care you give. It cannot be isolated and must be woven through your systems, facilities, and the entire ministry…. Every participant and, I would suggest, even every patient of Catholic health care should be encouraged and assisted to speak out for better health care for all…. In these tough times—for our church and ministry, for our nation and world, for health care, and those without health care—I am convinced your service and your voice are more important than ever."

In an effort to continue to meet the challenges of an unjust health care system, the Catholic health ministry is called by our mission and values to work together to bring about transformational change at the local, state, and federal levels. One essential component in achieving our goal of accessible and affordable health care for all is mobilizing our collective grassroots efforts to bring about the policy changes needed to be successful in our goals.

CHA's Role

Supported by local and system advocacy efforts, CHA has assumed a leadership role in shaping health care policy on the national level. The organization's credibility is sustained by strategic alliances with other mission-based organizations, participation in coalition groups with other health care advocates, and persistence in supporting legislation and regulations that protect the integrity of the Catholic health care ministry.

To advance the ministry's advocacy priorities, CHA is:

  • A leader, providing testimony, building national coalitions, generating communications to policymakers
  • A critical partner, working with others to support or oppose policies
  • An influence, monitoring and responding to issues of concern to the ministry and those we serve

The advocacy initiatives undertaken by CHA at a national level incorporate the efforts of Catholic systems and local ministries. The success of this collaboration is measured by the ability to effect change in health care policies.

Advocacy for just public policies in health care is a prime example of how the ministry can act together to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus.

Why We Advocate

The ministry's advocacy priorities are derived from Catholic values and social teaching, including our convictions that:

  • Every person is the subject of human dignity.
  • Public policy must serve the common good.
  • The needs of the poor have a moral priority.
  • There must be responsible stewardship of resources.
  • Health care is best understood as a human service, not a commodity to be exchanged for profit.
  • The Catholic health ministry is called to both serve persons in need and work to transform those structures that threaten our communities' well-being.