Mergers of Catholic, secular hospitals creating conflicts

Catholic health systems are joining forces with secular healthcare systems at an increasing rate due to financial reasons, reports the New York Times.

Altogether, about 20 such Catholic-secular deals have been announced over the past three years, according to the newspaper. Many of the deals have been spurred due to providers seeking new financial efficiencies in a straitened payment environment, and industry observers say the Affordable Care Act will likely accelerate such changes.

"We are starting to see what was rare in the past," said Lisa Goldstein, an analyst who follows the non-profit hospital sector for Moody's Investors Service.

The new transactions are sometimes creating significant policy changes within the walls of the secular partner's hospitals. Swedish Health Services, for example, stopped offering elective abortions after it became a part of Providence Health & Services. OSF Healthcare in Rockford, IL, is trying to overcome resistance to purchasing a secular hospital due to concerns that it would eliminate tubal ligations after a Caesarean section. OSF has an arrangement with its affiliated physicians to channel contraceptive prescriptions through another medical practice.

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article
- read the Newser article