Catholic Health Care: the Church’s Work of Evangelization23 Oct

“The Church exists to evangelize and Catholic Health Care is fundamentally an expression of the Church’s work of evangelization.”
Bishop Ronald Gainer
Bishop of Lexington

The Future Landscape of Health Care in Kentucky served as the theme for the annual summit hosted by the Catholic Conference in Louisville for administrators and other leaders in the Catholic health care community in Kentucky.

During the day long meeting presenters treated the fifty attendees to a wealth of information about the future of health care in Kentucky. In the morning Miriam Fordham and Brenda Parker, from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, provided information about Kentucky’s Health Benefit Exchange. The Cabinet will submit a proposal for approval by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by November 16, 2012 and, once approved, begin to work for full implementation by 2014. The health benefit exchange will facilitate the purchase and sale of health plans in the individual market, assist small employers in facilitating the enrollment of their employees in health plans, provide one-stop shopping by helping individuals enroll in health plans, Medicaid and KCHIP, enable individuals to receive premium tax credits and premium subsidies, and qualify small businesses for tax credits.

In the afternoon, Kathy Saile, Director of the Office of Domestic and Social Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, described ongoing efforts to improve on the Affordable Care Act. The bishops do not want to see the measure repealed, but are seeking changes to the law itself and to the regulation promulgated by HHS that conflict with Catholic church teaching regarding abortion and contraception and the treatment of immigrants. The regulation infringes on religious liberty by its definition of what constitutes religious activity.

A panel of three – Mary Haynes, Administrator of Nazareth Home, Paul Hiltz and Luisa Hurtado, both with Mercy Health Select – led a discussion focused on forming an Accountable Care Organization, the opportunities and challenges. The Affordable Care Act, even if repealed, is leading to new openings to provide health care in cost effective ways that do not diminish quality of care.

Bishop Gainer offered his closing reflections emphasizing how this ministry of healing in the future builds on the work of the past:

Innovation has always been the hallmark of Catholic Health Care.  The Religious Foundresses of your institutions faced what from a merely human perspective appeared to be insurmountable obstacles: slim financial resources, prejudices, cultural biases, the poor state of public health and more.  Yet they dared to act, to begin, to establish when others looked away.  Consistent with that legacy you will innovate to change the means of health care delivery — new techniques, new venues, and new organizational alignments.  All this you will do to innovate and overcome the obstacles that seem so large before you.  You do these things because you are professionals, remembering you came to this profession – this vocation – because you care deeply for others and for their well-being.

To read his complete reflection, click here.

Photos: Courtesy Nazareth Home and Diocese of Lexington

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