Representing Pennsylvania’s Catholic hospitals and health systems, the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) joined the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and others at a press conference today. The concerned organizations presented a petition with 13,000 signatures calling for restoration of hospital funding to protect access to health care services for the poor and marginalized in the Commonwealth and the future of Pennsylvania’s health care delivery system.
Franciscan Sister Clare Christi Schiefer, President of PCHA, expressed grave concern, “If enacted, these draconian measures will jeopardize access to health care services for some of our most vulnerable citizens and devastate many acute care hospitals in the Commonwealth.
“PCHA and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference are sensitive to the fact the state is experiencing difficult fiscal circumstances. However, health care providers, too, are also dealing with severe financial constraints and inadequate medical assistance reimbursement over the past several years. The reimbursement problem, in tandem with effects of the recession, rising operational expenses, losses on investment income, and the growing uninsured population have all contributed to crippling financial burdens on health care providers.”
Sister Clare said cuts that are especially problematic are payments for outpatient disproportionate share, medical and professional education, the Community Access fund, critical/access hospitals, burn centers, obstetric and neonatal services and trauma centers.
Catholic-sponsored facilities have been providing health care to Pennsylvanians for more than 150 years, with a special mission to the economically poor. They have historically faced daunting challenges in caring for those in need. But according to PCHA, Catholic hospitals, like others, cannot sustain these additional financial constraints which are leading to job layoffs and service cutbacks. Ultimately, they contend, this financial situation may lead to hospital closings.
Sister Clare urged lawmakers to reconsider the impact of the proposed medical assistance budget cuts, “Adequate dollars must be provided to the Medicaid Program, so that high quality health care services to vulnerable individuals in our communities can be provided, and services to those individuals are not curtailed or eliminated.”
PCHA, an associate of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC), is a statewide organization of Catholic hospitals, long-term care facilities, numerous multi-facility health systems and other related health care entities, sponsoring religious congregations and dioceses. The association provides support for the Catholic health ministry through Gospel witness in advocacy, communication, education and united action. PCHA makes policy recommendations to the PCC.
News release from the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association – July 14, 2009