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What if Catholic bishops arenít bluffing? (To close hospitals and schools because of HHS Mandate)
Hotair ^ | 03/01/2012 | Ed Morrissey

Posted on 03/01/2012 6:50:36 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Earlier this week, Francis Cardinal George of the archdiocese of Chicago sent a message to parishioners in Barack Obama’s home town that imposition of the HHS mandate to fund and facilitate contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization would force the Catholic Church to close its hospitals, clinics, schools, and all other organizations that would otherwise have to comply. “Two Lents from now,” Cardinal George warned, “unless something changes, the page [listing Catholic organizations] will be blank.” At the time, some commenters wrote that this has been Obama’s plan all along — to force religious charities out of business to make people more dependent on government. Others, including myself, figure that Obama just thinks the bishops are bluffing, and wants to engage in a high-stakes bout of brinksmanship to force them to kneel to secular authority over doctrine.

But how high are those stakes? In my column for The Fiscal Times today, I did a little research just on Catholic hospitals and their significance in American health care. As it turns out, this bet involved nearly $100 billion in annual costs and about one-seventh of all hospital beds in the US — and that’s not all:

The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion. Whom do these hospitals serve? Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.

Compared to their competition, Catholic hospitals take a leading role in providing less-profitable services to patients. They lead the sector in breast cancer screenings, nutrition programs, trauma, geriatric services, and social work. In most of these areas, other non-profits come close, but hospitals run by state and local governments fall significantly off the pace. Where patients have trouble paying for care, Catholic hospitals cover more of the costs. For instance, Catholic Health Services in Florida provides free care to families below 200 percent of federal poverty line, accepting Medicaid reimbursements as payment in full, and caps costs at 20 percent of household income for families that fall between 200 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.

Imagine the impact if these hospitals shut down, discounting the other 400-plus health centers and 1,500 specialized homes that the Catholic Church operates as part of its mission that would also disappear. Thanks to the economic models of these hospitals, no one will rush to buy them. One in six patients in the current system would have to vie for service in the remaining system, which would have to absorb almost $100 billion in costs each year to treat them. Over 120,000 beds would disappear from an already-stressed system.

The poor and working class families that get assistance from Catholic benefactors would end up having to pay more for their care than they do under the current system. Rural patients would have to travel farther for medical care, and services like social work and breast-cancer screenings would fall to the less-efficient government-run institutions. That would not only impact the poor and working class patients, but would create much longer wait times for everyone else in the system. Finally, over a half-million people employed by Catholic hospitals now would lose their jobs almost overnight, which would have a big impact on the economy as well as on health care.

Of course, it’s not just hospitals. The Catholic Church runs over 7500 primary and secondary education schools in the US (where over a third of students are non-Catholics), educating more than 2.5 million students. Thanks to a near-blanket moratorium on vouchers, taxpayer money doesn’t get used in teaching these students in a system that has a 99% graduation rate and a 97% success rate at placing students in college. Based on an average student cost of $8000 in public schools, Catholic schools save taxpayers about $20 billion dollars a year.

Perhaps with schools, though, the notion that Obama wants to crowd out private enterprise in favor of the public sector makes more sense. How about charities? Catholic Charities would also have to close its doors if the bishops refuse to comply with the HHS mandate. In 2003, the latest data available, they provided emergency food services to 6.5 million people, temporary shelter to over 200,000 people, and a range of other assistance to another 1.5 million people, including assistance in clothing, finances, utilities, and even medication. Those efforts would disappear overnight, along with schools and hospitals.

Surely, some will think, the bishops are just bluffing, and won’t purposefully create such a social disaster. Perhaps, but consider the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order and a deeply influential figure in Catholic thinking:

Some may doubt that the bishops would create this kind of havoc and disruption, and perhaps President Obama believes Cardinal George and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to be bluffing. However, Obama may want to read St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and his Principle and Foundation of faith, which informs Catholics on the priority of salvation. The first task of mankind, according to St. Ignatius, is to serve God and “save his soul,” and “other things on the face of the earth” should be used only as long as they serve that purpose. When they become a hindrance to salvation, St. Ignatius warns to “rid himself of them.”

If the HHS mandate forces the Catholic Church to fund and facilitate access to products and services they believe imperil souls, they will apply Ignatius’ principle and stick with salvation — which is the entire raison d’être of any religious organization. The implications for public-sector spending and services is massive, and Obama may be pushing all in with only a pair of jacks. Don’t count on the bishops to blink first.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bishops; catholic; contraception; hhsmandate
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1 posted on 03/01/2012 6:50:45 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

This would also cause chaos with medical education. Many of the Catholic hospitals are conjoined with a Catholic university medical school.

I believe that this is part of der Fuehrer’s plan.


2 posted on 03/01/2012 6:56:43 AM PST by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: SeekAndFind
Maybe Obama would seize the facilities and draft the staff into national service based upon some penumbra in the Constitution.
3 posted on 03/01/2012 6:58:38 AM PST by Truth29
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To: SeekAndFind

If the bishops fold on this, it’s going to be hard for me to stay in the Church. Already I don’t donate to CC or the schools. I just donate for my little parish church to keep its doors open and to Christian radio. I’ll find a parish with no school that doesn’t pledge to any one except Rome.


4 posted on 03/01/2012 6:58:37 AM PST by Mercat
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To: RJS1950

They will probably work out some phoney-baloney plastic banana good-time rock-and-roll arrangement like the one that Mercy Hospital has with UPMC here in Pittsburgh.

Under that deal UPMC gets to run the place and call all the shots, while they retain the name Mercy and become CINO (Catholic In Name Only). I presume that the Order of Nuns gets some cut of whatever profit UPMC can squeeze out of the place.


5 posted on 03/01/2012 7:00:27 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Buckeye McFrog

You will see the largest confiscation of church property since the Age of Terror.


6 posted on 03/01/2012 7:05:31 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: massgopguy

Or since Henry the 8th.


7 posted on 03/01/2012 7:07:03 AM PST by agere_contra ("Debt is the foundation of destruction" : Sarah Palin.)
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To: RJS1950

It would give Obama every excuse he needs to officially nationalize the entire health-care industry.


8 posted on 03/01/2012 7:07:39 AM PST by PGR88
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To: SeekAndFind

Although I am not Catholic, I stand behind them on this.


9 posted on 03/01/2012 7:11:16 AM PST by rfreedom4u (Just because someone thinks it's a good idea doesn't make it legal.)
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To: SeekAndFind
They aren't. The Catholic hospital where my wife works has refused to sign new contracts with the insurance companies that require them to give up the conscience exemptions. It turns out economic blackmail is less effective against a hospital where the board of directors are monks with a vow of poverty. They will serve as long as they can and then close the doors. Take away everything and it turns out they are OK with that. The brothers are not men who take their ethics lightly.
10 posted on 03/01/2012 7:12:52 AM PST by GonzoGOP (There are millions of paranoid people in the world and they are all out to get me.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The public school teacher unions will rejoice over Catholic schools closing.


11 posted on 03/01/2012 7:13:24 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: SeekAndFind

Catholic Charities closed its adoption centers here in MA, because they would have been forced to adopt children out to sodomites.

There was barely a whimper from the public.

When the Church is forced to sell off hospitals, the reaction will be similar.

The Marxists formed our society in government schools. They are now simply reaping the harvest.


12 posted on 03/01/2012 7:15:25 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey!)
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To: SeekAndFind

An abortifacient kills an innocent life. The Bible has only three instances where God approves the breaking of the law, and one of them is saving innocent life. See Exodus 1:17. The Catholic Church should defy the law and accept the punishment for doing so. I doubt even Obama wants nationwide television coverage of nuns and bishops being hauled off in cuffs.


13 posted on 03/01/2012 7:15:46 AM PST by Our man in washington
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To: PGR88

And the goverment would decide which babies live and which babies are murdered and the smae for people who are ill.


14 posted on 03/01/2012 7:18:21 AM PST by chiefqc
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To: GonzoGOP

-——They will serve as long as they can and then close the doors. Take away everything and it turns out they are OK with that. The brothers are not men who take their ethics lightly.-——

Catholic colleges went down the tubes when the religious-led boards were turned over to the laity.

1967 was the year.

God bless the good sisters, brothers, priests and bishops.

Looks like we’re headed for the catacombs. It might not be a bad thing.


15 posted on 03/01/2012 7:22:01 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey!)
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To: Mercat
If the bishops fold on this, it’s going to be hard for me to stay in the Church.

The problem is that their are two Catholic Churches. Their is the church of the parish and bishops. Then there are the holy orders. And the holy orders that I have personally had contact with, Jesuits (educated me), Alexian Brothers (worked for them), Franciscans (personal friends), tend to be made of tougher stuff than the parish priests. I would not be surprised if some of those guys will go underground before they back down. And for the most part they control the universities and hospitals, at least here in Chicago.
16 posted on 03/01/2012 7:22:28 AM PST by GonzoGOP (There are millions of paranoid people in the world and they are all out to get me.)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas
Catholic colleges went down the tubes when the religious-led boards were turned over to the laity.

Not all. I'm Jesuit educated in the 1980's and I'm probably one of the few kids who went into college an apathetic mind of mush and came out a coneservative. OK Reagan being in the white house had something to do with it. But the forced nine credis of tehology and nine credis of philosophy helped a lot in shaping my world view. Especially as I had Jesuits teaching at the 101 level. I got the libs in the advanced class, but they had already taught me how to spot the BS.
17 posted on 03/01/2012 7:28:46 AM PST by GonzoGOP (There are millions of paranoid people in the world and they are all out to get me.)
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To: SeekAndFind

As a Lifelong Catholic, I give this opinion.

The Church may sell these hospitals or turn them over to someone else to run, but they love money too much to just close them.


18 posted on 03/01/2012 7:29:55 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Our man in washington

RE: I doubt even Obama wants nationwide television coverage of nuns and bishops being hauled off in cuffs.

They raided Gibson Guitars and seized a half-million dollars worth of property for “violating” ( note the quotes ) an inappropriate tariff code on wood from India and have not even filed any charges MONTHS LATER !!

First they came for Gibson and no one spoke up for them because guitars are not their business, then they’ll come for the Catholics, will anyone speak up for them?


19 posted on 03/01/2012 7:33:01 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: Our man in washington

———The Catholic Church should defy the law and accept the punishment for doing so. I doubt even Obama wants nationwide television coverage of nuns and bishops being hauled off in cuffs.-——

He won’t. He’ll just seize title and bank accounts. Sometime later the doors will be padlocked.

The Church simply doesn’t have the resources to support a sit-in. And what little She has will be confiscated.

Confrontation is justifiable, if not called for. It’s just hard to imagine an effective tactic.

Regardless, judging from past performance, the bishops lack the courage for confrontation, but then, so does the laity. We’re soft.


20 posted on 03/01/2012 7:33:34 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey!)
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