At opportune time, ministry advocates press importance of sound health care policy

May 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — CHA convened nearly 80 ministry advocates here for the 2017 Catholic Legislative Advocacy Conference on March 23 and 24. The conference took place as the House of Representatives debated the American Health Care Act, legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Attendees heard presentations from experts in the health care field, including staff members from key Senate offices. The health care legislation, which CHA opposed, was the main topic. But the conference also highlighted the importance and future of the Medicaid program, the proposed fiscal year 2018 federal budget and other topics of interest including recent actions by President Donald Trump's administration regarding immigrants and refugees.

Over the course of the two-day period, conference participants made approximately 150 visits on Capitol Hill. As the conference progressed, House leadership attempted to move to a floor vote on the American Health Care Act on both March 23 and 24. On both occasions, however, the leadership ultimately decided to pull the bill from consideration after it was clear that there was not enough support to pass it.

With the House deliberating the legislation, conference attendees had a rare opportunity to weigh in with lawmakers as they discussed the major changes to the health care system proposed in the bill. According to Tom Turner, vice president of government relations for Canton, Ohio-based Mercy Medical Center, the presence of ministry advocates helped shape that debate. "The urgency, the historic atmosphere and our long-term relationships I believe made a difference," he said.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., center, meets with, clock from left, Lillian Montoya, chief administrative officer, CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Santa Fe, N.M.; Patrick Carrier, president and chief executive of CHRISTUS St. Vincent; Lauren Arias, the senator’s legislative assistant for health; and Gabriela Saenz, vice president of advocacy and public policy, CHRISTUS Health of Irving, Texas.
Photo by Rick Reinhard/© CHA
Lisa Smith, left, CHA senior director of government relations, moderates a panel discussion of the American Health Care Act with Sarah Schmidt and Colin Goldfinch. Schmidt is health policy advisor for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Goldfinch is senior health policy advisor for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Rick Reinhard/© CHA

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., left, meets with Deb Fischer-Clemens, senior vice president, Avera Center for Public Policy, part of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Avera Health.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, right, greets Dennis Gonzalez, regional vice president of mission integration for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System of San Antonio. Photo by Rick Reinhard/© CHA
Tom Turner, vice president of government relations for Mercy Medical Center of Canton, Ohio, poses a question at the legislative advocacy conference. 
Photo by Rick Reinhard/© CHA
Rep. A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., center is flanked by advocates from Bon Secours Virginia outside the U.S. Capitol. Rhodes Ritenour Sr., left, is vice president, external and regulatory affairs for the Richmond-based health system, and Thom Prevette directs advocacy and community affairs.


Copyright © 2017 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.

Copyright © 2017 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

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