Thursday March 18, 2010

Pro-Life House Dem: CHA Has Financial Incentive to Support Health Bill

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 ( – Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), one of the pro-life House Democrats facing tough pressure for opposing the abortion-laden Senate health care bill, has pointed out that, as a trade association, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) has more at stake with the bill’s passage than it may openly admit.

“I think the hospitals have a different perspective because they’re running large institutions,” Kaptur said. “They have a lot of issues at stake. They have to balance their budgets and so forth. I think that the Bishops are probably in a different position. I don’t think that they’re really managerially responsible for these institutions.”

Unlike the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CHA is a for-profit entity, and analysts have pointed out that it would greatly benefit financially from the passage of the bill. CHA had already promised large sums of money to the Obama administration in July to help pass the legislation – before it was ever crafted.

CHA president and CEO Sr. Carol Keehan sparked an uproar over the weekend when she came out definitively in favor of the Senate health care bill, which top pro-life organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in addition to countless others, have strongly condemned as unacceptable for its abortion funding provisions.

Since then, in their quest to woo the final pro-life Democrat holdouts among House lawmakers, party leaders have attempted to paint CHA’s support for the bill as a bona fide endorsement from the Catholic community.

White House Secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday mentioned that President Obama has met with Keehan over the bill, and pointed out that certain “Catholic” groups are in agreement with the White House on the bill’s merits.

CHA, along with Catholic Charities USA and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, caused a small stir in August by releasing an “action alert” urging Catholics to pressure lawmakers “with calls and emails supporting health care reform immediately.”

At that time, Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, said the groups’ involvement with the White House and willingness to push the administration’s health care agenda was ominous.

“All of this leads one to wonder what exactly Obama has been stirring up,” Brown told

See related coverage:

Catholic Organizations’ Support for Health Care Reform Follows the Money Trail