Ministry is unrelenting in seeking health care access for all

July 1, 2012


PHILADELPHIA — Health reform has been a long-sought goal of CHA members who see firsthand the physical and emotional suffering of those without access to health care. CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, told over 1,000 senior ministry leaders gathered here June 3-5 for the 2012 Catholic Health Assembly that the challenging journey to secure health care for everyone is far from over.

Sr. Carol spoke and Catholic Health World went to press before the Supreme Court issued its much anticipated verdict on a constitutional challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, legislation that the association championed. In her remarks, Sr. Carol called the law "a major advance towards getting a health system worthy of our great nation."

If affirmed by the court, the law is expected to expand private and public health insurance coverage at an affordable price to 32 million of the 50 million uninsured people in the United States.

"However they rule," Sr. Carol said of the court, "we must continue to respond to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, preserving this hard-won gain," she said. "We must also be part of creating an equitably funded health care system for this country. Expecting a health care system to remain high-quality and affordable while absorbing the expense of

50 million uninsured who still need health care is insane. We see the unfairness of this on everyone, as well as the damage to our country's economy."

Sr. Carol said the social teaching of the Catholic Church and of Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes the importance of adequate health care for everyone in the world on the basis of objective need. "As a country, we are long overdue in giving millions of our brothers and sisters access to care in a timely and dignified manner," she said.

The majority of the insurance coverage expansion enabled by the law will come by expanding Medicaid and through state-level insurance exchanges offering private health insurance to small businesses and individuals who do not have access to workplace-based coverage. Sr. Carol said that CHA is monitoring the enrollment processes as they are devised, and she asked ministry members to do the same. "We cannot allow this process to be such a burdensome one that it effectively prevents millions from getting the coverage they are eligible for. Your monitoring of this in your states will be invaluable," she said.

Sr. Carol said that the law is not perfect, and there have been challenges in its implementation. In particular CHA is working with its members and with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to ensure that regulations related to contraceptive coverage in employer-based insurance enable Catholic organizations to provide benefits in conformity with their religious principles. "Let us continue to pray that people of good will can work through this in a way that benefits our nation and values we hold so dear," she said.


Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.