Alarmist News Reports About Catholic Hospitals Are False; CHA Supports Difficult Decision By Mercy Health Partners

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement is being released by Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive office of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):

Recent news and blog reports have assigned false motives to the proposed sale of Mercy Health Partners facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Based on statements from local hospital leadership, we are confident that the health system is moving forward with a possible sale because it is in the best interests of the community.

Reports that health reform is the primary motive behind the sale are completely false, misleading and politically motivated. Deliberations to sell the facilities began well before the Affordable Care Act became law and did not hinge on enactment of the legislation.

Mercy leaders said they determined that their own resources were insufficient to meet the needs of the community going forward. According to hospital leaders, for more than two decades Scranton-area hospitals have faced lower than average reimbursement and a dwindling population base, resulting at times in empty hospital beds and duplicative services.

Given the recent media coverage, it is also important to note that health reform does not in any way imperil the ability of Catholic hospitals to operate as they always have-in accordance with their values and in full compliance with the religious and ethical directives of Catholic health care. The Affordable Care Act maintains conscience protections that enable Catholic hospitals to carry out their mission without performing procedures that violate their conscience or religious beliefs.

Reaching the decision to close or sell a Catholic hospital is never easy, and is always handled with the greatest concern for the community and its residents. The Mercy sale is no exception. I am confident that Mercy leaders are committed both to serving the Scranton community and making health reform work to expand coverage to the uninsured and vulnerable.  

The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry's commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities that, along with their sponsoring organizations, employ more than 750,000 women and men who deliver services combining advanced technology with the Catholic caring tradition. For more information, visit the CHA website at