Proposed bylaws would allow CHA membership to be more inclusive

June 1, 2015

CHA members will vote in Washington, D.C., at the June 8 Membership Assembly meeting at the Catholic Health Assembly on whether to adopt new bylaws that would expand the criteria for association membership.

Under the proposed bylaws modifications, voting members of CHA can be either not-for-profit or for-profit. Currently members must be not-for-profit organizations.

Both Catholic and non-Catholic organizations would be eligible to join CHA as voting members.

If approved, the new bylaws would enable applicants to access voting membership in one of three ways:
  • They are recognized as Catholic by the local bishop.
  • They are recommended for membership by the local bishop.
  • They are recommended for membership by a canonical juridic person, after dialogue with the local bishop.

The bylaws make clear that only the local bishop can determine whether an organization is Catholic and complies with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

In all cases, the proposed bylaws state, voting members must "promote, embrace and foster the mission, purposes and values of CHA, including the principles of Catholic social and moral teaching." The bylaws provide the CHA Board of Trustees with explicit authority to revoke membership status if it appears an organization no longer meets the membership criteria.

The genesis of the bylaw changes dates to around 2010, when some Catholic health care providers began to adopt new structures in response to changing market conditions. In some cases, the new structures meant that long-time association members were no longer eligible for membership, even though they desired to remain members.

In 2011, the CHA board appointed a Membership Study Committee to evaluate the new models and determine whether there should be changes to the CHA membership criteria to accommodate some or all of these structures. The committee divided its work into three phases including a theological reflection, an exploration of lived experience in organizations with new models and development of recommendations.

"We spent three years in a careful and thorough discernment," said Colleen Scanlon, chair of the Membership Study Committee. A past CHA chairperson, Scanlon is a senior vice president and chief advocacy officer for Catholic Health Initiatives in Englewood, Colo. "Adapting to change and building new structures to better serve people and communities has always been a hallmark of Catholic health care," she said. "The proposed bylaws changes allow CHA to be more inclusive in its membership, while at the same time affirm the commitment of CHA and its members to Catholic social and moral teaching."

In late 2014, the Membership Study Committee, which included CHA board members and ministry leaders, made recommendations to the CHA board to broaden the membership criteria. After four months of reflection, the board endorsed the changes to the membership criteria that will be put to a membership vote at the assembly.

Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA's president and chief executive officer, said, "I am very grateful to the Membership Study Committee participants for their thoughtful work over the past three years to propose changes that I believe will ensure CHA's continued value to a broad cross section of members and the communities they serve."

If approved by the Membership Assembly, the bylaws amendments will take effect July 1.

 

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