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MergerWatch in the News

ProPublica November 11, 2014: Catholic Bishops Vote to Revise Rules for Health Care Partnerships

Kaiser Health News September 17, 2014: Rise Of Catholic Insurance Plans Raises Questions About Contraceptive Coverage

Seattle Magazine June 2014: Will Washington's Many Catholic Hospitals Affect Your Health Care?

Modern Healthcare April 12, 2014: The Turnaround of Dignity Health

RH Reality Check April 9, 2014: WA Policy Disclosures Provide Little Clarity on Hospital Access to Reproductive Health Care

The Nation Blog March 31, 2014: Doctors at OK Hospital Told They Can No Longer Prescribe Birth Control

Courier Journal March 1, 2014: KentuckyOne Layoffs Total 500

Courier Journal January 30, 2014: KentuckyOne Health Struggles with $218 Million Deficit

Melissa Harris-Perry/MSNBC December 19, 2013: What Catholic Hospital Expansion Means for Women

Modern Healthcare December 19, 2013: Growth of Catholic Systems Threatens Women's Health Care Access, Report Says

Mother Jones December 18, 2013: Charts: Catholic Hospitals Don't Do Much For Poor

Pro-Publica December 18, 2013: The Growth of Catholic Hospitals, By the Numbers

Pro-Publica November 14, 2013: At CO Catholic Hospital, A Dispute Over What A Doctor Can Say - And Do

Melissa Harris-Perry Show/MSNBC November 9, 2013: Communities Fight for Control of Hospitals

Melissa Harris-Perry Show/MSNBC November 9, 2013 (VIDEO): Is Catholicism Harming Hospital Policy?

Mother Jones Nov/Dec 2013 Issue: Do Bishops Run Your Hospital?

Pro Publica October 17, 2013: Catholic Hospitals Grow, And With Them Questions of Care

Central Kitsap Reporter August 7, 2013: Harrison Affiliation to Move Forward

Central Kitsap Reporter July 19, 2013: Harrison Affiliation Could Take More Time

Central Kitsap Reporter July 6, 2013: Harrison Awaits Word on Affiliation

Kitsap Sun July 2, 2013: Governor Orders Overhaul of Hospital Affiliation Process

Kitsap Sun June 22, 2013: Harrison Affiliation Plan Filed with State

Associated Press June 21, 2013: Fewer Abortions with Hospital Consolidations

LA Times June 20, 2013: Hoag Hospital's Abortion Ban Linked to New Catholic Partner

Austin American-Statesman May 22, 2013: Central Health Questioned About Women's Health Care Services

New York Times May 12, 2013: Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle

Kitsap Sun May 11, 2013: Harrison-Franciscan Affiliation Comes Amid Wave of Religious-Secular Partnerships

Houston Chronicle April 28, 2013: Concerns Mounting Over Catholic Acquisition of St. Luke's

Seattle Times April 27, 2013: Hospitals' Proposed Affiliation with Catholic Systems Opposed

National Public Radio April 25, 2013: Family Doctors Consider Dropping Birth Control Training Rule

Arkansas Times' Blog March 26, 2013: Nat'l Groups Raise Questions About UAMS-St. Vincent Combine

RH Reality Check March 25, 2013: Why I Refuse to Be Taken to a Catholic Hospital-& Why Other Women Should Too

The Stranger February 20, 2013: Faith Healers: Catholic Hospital Care in Washington State

Skagit Valley Herald February 3, 2013: Public/Catholic Alliance Raises Concerns about Church and State Separation

The Courier-Journal December 12, 2012: University of Louisville Partnership with Catholic-based Health Firm Raises Academic Concerns

The Bangor Daily News December 11, 2012: Sale of Catholic Hospital in Portland Raises Questions About Patient Care

The American-Statesman December 8, 2012: Critics Wary of Catholic Teaching Hospital for New University of Texas Medical School

The Courier-Journal November 18, 2012: Doubts Linger over University Hospital Partnership's Impact on Patient Care

The Courier-Journal September 21, 2012: University Hospital Partner Decision Postponed

The Hartford Courant September 5, 2012: Carve-Out Proposal Rejected, Waterbury Merger in Jeopardy

Republican American September 5, 2012: Women's Groups Oppose Carve-Out Proposal in Waterbury, CT

RH Reality Check July 26, 2012: Opposing Religious Coercion in Health Care: The Defeat of the Abington Hospital Merger in PA

The Philadelphia Inquirer July12, 2012: 150 Abington Physicians Decry Plan to Stop Abortions

WHYY's Newsworks July 11, 2012: Abington-Holy Redeemer Proposal Raises Issues of Lost Services, Culture Clash

The Philadelphia Inquirer July 8, 2012: Anger at Abington Hospital

The Philadelphia Inquirer July 7, 2012: Debate Grows on Abington Health-Holy Redeemer Alliance

Women's Enews July 5, 2012: Hospital Deal Could Send Tube-Tying Out of Town

The Hartford Courant June 22, 2012: Women's Health Care Questions Slow Merger of Waterbury, St. Mary's Hospitals

The Nation Magazine June 20, 2012: Catholic Health Association Pulls Support From Contraception Mandate

Republican American June 12, 2012: Hospital Merger Heats Up, Could Set National Precedent

The Hartford Courant June 2, 2012: Catholic Institutions Ignore Individuals' Rights

Republican American May 21, 2012: Hospitals' Merger Would Ban Women's Surgery

Times Herald-Record March 20, 2012: Service Gap at Kingston Reproductive Services Clinic

The New York Times February 29, 2012: Women's Health Care at Risk

The Observer-Dispatch February 26, 2012: When secular, Catholic hospitals merge, questions are raised

The Baltimore Sun February 26, 2012: St Joseph considers merger with non-Catholic hospital system

The New Republic February 22, 2012: Unholy Alliance: Catholic health care controversy goes beyond birth control

The Nation Magazine February 17, 2012: Employees Need Birth Control Mandate

WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show February 14, 2012: Contraception Coverage in NY State

Modern Healthcare Magazine January 28, 2012: Business Conversion

Kaiser Health News January 23, 2012: In Quest to Grow, Catholic Hospital System Pares Religious Ties

Courier Journal January 16, 2012: Without Merger, Visions for University Hospital's Future Contrast

Courier Journal December 17, 2011: Documents on Directives Don't Satisfy Merger Critics

US News & World Report Best Hospitals 2012 Edition: Supersized Medicine

Courier Journal November 6, 2011: Merger Mania: Louisville Case Part of U.S. Surge

Seattle Times October 20, 2011: Swedish Abortion Decision an Insult

Courier Journal October 16, 2011: Hospital Merger May Cut Benefits

Courier Journal October 17, 2011: Altered Catholic Rules Pose Problems

Courier Journal September 8, 2011: Church-State Separation Seen as Issue in Hospital Merger

Republican American August 26, 2011: Abortion Foes Will Oppose Merger

Inside Higher Education August 9, 2011: Church, State and a University Hospital

Courier Journal July 23, 2011:University Hospital Merger Stirs End-of-Life Care Fears

WFPL News July 22, 2011: "Hospital Within A Hospital" Possible Solution for Healthcare Merger Concerns

Courier Journal June 12, 2011: Will Louisville Hospital Merger Mean Lost Services?

Ms. Magazine Spring 2011:
Treatment Denied

Women's Health Daily Report April 12, 2011: AZ Residents Celebrate End of Hospital Merger

Arizona Daily Star March 31, 2011: AZ Hospital, Catholic Health System End Agreement

Church & State March 2011: Prescription for Disaster: Catholic Bishops, Church Hospitals and Your Health Care

Washington Post January 20, 2011: Religious hospitals' restrictions sparking conflict, scrutiny

Religious Restrictions:
Hospital Care

Religiously-Sponsored Hospitals

Religiously-sponsored hospitals have long played an important role in the American health care system. Many of these hospitals were founded to serve the medical and spiritual needs of members of a particular faith, including patients and physicians who may have experienced discrimination at other hospitals.

SOURCE: Modern Healthcare's 2010 Hospital System Survey | Bonnie Berkowitz and Mary Kate Cannistra/The Washington Post - Jan. 20, 2011

Since the mid-20th century, however, religiously-sponsored hospitals have served an increasingly diverse population of patients and employ staff who often are not of the same faith as the hospital sponsors. Moreover, religious hospitals (especially Catholic facilities) have consolidated into large regional and national health systems that wield considerable market power and have been acquiring non-religious community hospitals. Four of the 10 largest health systems in the nation are now religiously-sponsored (three Catholic and one Adventist).

Because many religious hospitals continue to restrict the services they provide, based on doctrine, there is a growing conflict between these hospitals and the diverse communities they serve. Patients may have no other convenient choice for hospital care, or may be restricted in where they can seek care because of managed care rules requiring members to use “in-network” hospitals. Frequently patients only learn about restrictive care in a religious hospital once they are in need of such care. (Read about how the majority of Catholics feel about Catholic healthcare here.)

Religious restrictions can interfere with the doctor-patient relationship by effectively “gagging” the physician and preventing him/her from describing treatment options that are not permitted at the hospital. Moreover, physicians may be prohibited from providing disapproved services, even in cases of emergency, such as treatment of ectopic pregnancy or the offering of emergency contraception to rape victims.

Despite these restrictions on patients' access to case and clinicians' ability to provide needed services, religiously-sponsored hospitals continue to receive billions of public dollars each year through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and government grants. To learn more, see No Strings Attached: Public Funding of Religiously-Sponsored Hospitals in the United States.

Frances Kissling shares her thoughts on the public health obligations of hospitals that receive public funding.