MergerWatch and the ACLU have released a report, Miscarriage of Medicine: The Growth of Catholic Hospitals and the Threat to Reproductive Health Care.
The report looks at the increasing number of acute-care hospitals that are Catholic-sponsored or -affiliated and the expansion of Catholic-sponsored health systems in the United States between 2001 and 2011. It discusses the threat this growth poses to patient access to reproductive health services, including information and referrals.
The report further shows the degree to which these institutions rely on tax dollars, even as they limit medical care based on religious doctrine. At the same time, data also indicate that, despite their claims of service to the poor, Catholic-sponsored and -affiliated facilities actually provide only an average amount of charity care and a lower percentage of care to Medicaid patients than any other type of hospital.
Among its key findings:
- Between 2001 and 2011, the number of Catholic-sponsored or –affiliated acute-care hospitals increased by 16%, while all other types of non-profit hospitals declined in numbers.
- By 2011, 10 % of all acute-care hospitals were Catholic-sponsored or –affiliated.
- About one in nine beds was in a Catholic –sponsored or –affiliated hospital in 2011.
- In 2011, 10 of the 25 largest health systems in the nation were Catholic sponsored.
In short, this report reveals how Catholic hospitals have left far behind their humble beginnings as facilities established by orders of nuns and brothers to serve the faithful and the poor. They have organized into large systems that behave like businesses – aggressively expanding to capture greater market share – but rely on public funding and use religious doctrine to compromise women’s health care.
The report also includes a number of recommendations, including to call on CMS to enforce requirements that all hospitals, regardless of religious affiliation, provide complete information about all treatment options and emergency care.
Please feel free to share the report. We hope this will advance our work for education and policy reform to ensure that patients’ health and rights are respected.