Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Follow the Money" and Follow the Church

"Follow the Money" and Follow Rome

In our defense of conscience protections, it often seems that we neglect to point out that medicine which is consistent with Catholic ethics happens to be health care par excellence!  In addition, we fail to note how entrenched, vested interests steadfastly oppose us (sometimes in the open and sometimes surreptitiously).  As per my 2/18/13 submission to the Bucks County Courier Times, 
  • "the revised HHS mandate would still force employers to pay for abortifacients/contraceptives and sterilizations....the HHS mandate has nothing to do with sound health care; it thus appears to have everything to do with enriching those who profiteer from abortifacients/ contraceptives and sterilizations....Incorporating fertility awareness and other morally acceptable aid, NaPro Technology is [in addition to helping married couples postpone pregnancy for serious reasons] also far more successful in helping couples achieve pregnancy than IVF - and monumentally less expensive!....The HHS ignores evidence for NaPro Technology but seeks to - in effect - 'bail out' the pharmaceutical industry by forcing employers to finance abortifacients/contraceptives, as well as sterilizations." 

"Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us"

As per Gene Lyons' 3/15/13 op-ed in the Bucks County Courier Times,  "Sometimes the best journalism explains what’s right under our noses. In Steven Brill’s exhaustive Time magazine cover article, 'Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,' it’s the staggeringly expensive, grotesquely inefficient and inhumane way Americans pay for medical care....Obamacare or no Obamacare, ever-increasing prices show few signs of abating....had the law attempted to seriously restrain profiteering hospital chains, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers..., there’s no way it could have passed."  As per Brill,
     "When you look behind the bills that ...[hospital] patients receive, you see nothing rational - no rhyme or reason - about the costs they faced in a marketplace they enter through no choice of their own. The only constant is the sticker shock for the patients who are asked to pay.

    "Yet those who work in the health care industry and those who argue over health care policy seem inured to the shock. When we debate health care policy, we seem to jump right to the issue of who should pay the bills, blowing past what should be the first question: Why exactly are the bills so high?....

    "the American health care market has transformed tax-exempt 'nonprofit' hospitals into the towns' most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions' most richly compensated executives....

    "We may be shocked at the $60 billion price tag for cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. We spent almost that much last week on health care....

    "The health care industry seems to have the will and the means to keep it that way. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries, combined with organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMOs, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington....the health-care-industrial complex spends more than three times what the military-industrial complex spends in Washington....

    "[One issue is] medical-malpractice litigation. It's not as much about the verdicts or settlements (or considerable malpractice-insurance premiums) that hospitals and doctors pay as it is about what they do to avoid being sued....

    "thousands of nonprofit institutions have morphed into high-profit, high-profile businesses that have the best of both worlds. They have become entities akin to low-risk, must-have public utilities that nonetheless pay their operators as if they were high-risk regulator caps hospital profits.

    "Yet hospitals are also beloved local charities....

    "Under Internal Revenue Service rules, nonprofits are not prohibited from taking in more money than they spend. They just can't distribute the overage to shareholders - because they don't have any shareholders....

    "60% of the personal bankruptcy filings each year are related to medical bills....

    "Mercy Hospital is owned by an organization under the umbrella of the Catholic Church called Sisters of Mercy. Its mission, as described in its latest filing with the IRS as a tax-exempt charity, is 'to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus by promoting health and wellness.' With a chain of 31 hospitals and 300 clinics across the Midwest, Sisters of Mercy uses a bill-collection firm based in Topeka, Kans., called Berlin-Wheeler Inc. Suits against Mercy patients are on file in courts across Oklahoma listing Berlin-Wheeler as the plaintiff. According to its most recent tax return, the Oklahoma City unit of the Sisters of Mercy hospital chain collected $337 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. It had an operating profit of $34 million. And that was after paying 10 executives more than $300,000 each, including $784,000 to a regional president and $438,000 to the hospital president.

    "That report doesn't cover the executives overseeing the chain, called Mercy Health, of which Mercy in Oklahoma City is a part. The overall chain had $4.28 billion in revenue that year. Its hospital in Springfield, Mo. (pop. 160,660), had $880.7 million in revenue and an operating profit of $319 million, according to its federal filing. The incomes of the parent company's executives appear on other IRS filings covering various interlocking Mercy nonprofit corporate entities. Mercy president and CEO Lynn Britton made $1,930,000, and an executive vice president, Myra Aubuchon, was paid $3.7 million, according to the Mercy filing. In all, seven Mercy Health executives were paid more than $1 million care actually cost Mercy about three-tenths of 1% of its revenue, or about $13 million out of $4.28 billion (Steven Brill, Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, Time Magazine, 2/27/13)....


Speaking of Salaries of Top "Catholic" Hospital Executives, What Is the Situation in Our Own Archdiocese?

As Gene Lyons indicated, we can miss "what’s right under our noses."  In this section, my sources are Compensation for Health System Executives, (undated),,, and 

    Holy Redeemer

    This past year, a proposed merger between a "Catholic" and a secular hospital was applauded by many pro life people, in the naive belief that it would mean the end of abortions by the secular hospital. Displaying a suspect understanding of "cooperation," a 7/29/12 analysis by a National Catholic Bioethics Center staff ethicist almost seemed intended to reassure pro-abortion forces that all might not be lost in collaborations between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals!  Had pro-abortion forces simply known that Holy Redeemer President Michael B. Laign ($732,494 earnings) contributed to pro-abortion Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, that Chief Medical Office Anthony Colleta ($525,416 earnings) contributed to the late pro-abortion Senator Arlen Specter, and that SVP Michele Urofsky ($387,185 earnings) contributed to pro-abortion former Congressman Jim Greenwood, they might have felt far more comfortable!

    Catholic Health East

    Judith M. Persichilli earns $2,458,985 as Catholic Health East President/CEO.  She "resides in Pennington with her husband, Anthony, and they are currently members of St. James Parish, Pennington" (The Monitor of the Diocese of Trenton, 8/30/11).  No mention was made by the Monitor of Anthony Persichilli's campaign contributions to pro-abortion candidates President Barrack Obama or Congressman Rush Holt.

    St Mary Medical Center President/CEO Greg Wozniak earns $743,547 and has contributed to a campaign by pro-abortion (former) Congressman Patrick Murphy.  While Terri Rivera is only the eighth highest paid administrator ($246,692) at St. Mary's, she seems responsible for its dissemination and implementation of the ERDs. She has also apparently contributed to a campaign by pro-abortion (former) Congressman Patrick Murphy.

    Mercy Health System President/CEO H. Ray Welch, Jr. earns $1,000,036 and has contributed to the campaigns of pro-abortion Congressman Bob Brady and pro-abortion Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.  Mercy Philadelphia CEO Kathryn Conallen has contributed to pro abortion Congressman Chaka Fattah.  Nazareth CEO Christina Fitz-patrick has contributed to pro abortion Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.

What Else Does Steven Brill's Time Magazine Article Say?

    "In 2008, Gregory Demske, an assistant inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, told a Senate committee that 'physicians routinely receive substantial compensation from medical-device companies through stock options, royalty agreements, consulting agreements, research grants and fellowships'....

    "[Some] doctors, Demske noted, had stretched the conflict of interest beyond consulting fees....the nonprofit public-interest-journalism organization ProPublica has smartly organized data on doctor payments on its website. The conflicts have not been eliminated, but they are being aired, albeit on searchable websites rather than through a requirement that doctors disclose them to patients directly....

    "More than $280 billion will be spent this year on prescription drugs in the U.S....

    "Why are the drug profit margins treated as another given that we have to work around to get out of the $750 billion annual overspend, rather than a problem to be solved?....

    "we should embarrass Democrats into stopping their fight against medical-malpractice reform and instead provide safe-harbor defenses for doctors....Trial lawyers who make their bread and butter from civil suits have been the Democrats' biggest financial backer for decades....

    "we could require drug companies to include a prominent, plain-English notice of the gross profit margin on the packaging of each drug, as well as the salary of the parent company's CEO. The same would have to be posted on the company's website. If nothing else, it would be a good test of embarrassment thresholds.

    "the policy experts who put together Obamacare....know what the core problem is - lopsided pricing and outsize profits in a market that doesn't work. Yet there is little in Obamacare that addresses that core issue or jeopardizes the paydays of those thriving in that marketplace....

    "When you follow the money, you see the choices we've made, knowingly or unknowingly.

    "Over the past few decades, we've enriched the labs, drug companies, medical device makers, hospital administrators....we've squeezed the doctors who don't own their own clinics, don't work as drug or device consultants or don't otherwise game a system that is so gameable. And of course, we've squeezed everyone outside the system who gets stuck with the bills.

    "We've created a secure, prosperous island in an economy that is suffering under the weight of the riches those on the island extract.

    "And we've allowed those on the island and their lobbyists and allies to control the debate, diverting us from what Gerard Anderson, a health care economist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says is the obvious and only issue: 'All the prices are too damn high'" (Steven Brill, Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, Time Magazine, 2/27/13).


Entrenched, vested interests are also at the core of scandalous conditions in Philly's "Catholic" hospitals (i.e.., 
  1. the paucity of NFP-only physicians, 
  2. "privileges" for IVF specialists, 
  3. "privileges" for associates of practices involved with "fetal reduction", 
  4. provision of information on "advance directives" which fails to specify that Catholic teaching must be honored - particularly with regard to provision of nutrition and hydration).
Unsuspecting people are misled by the "Catholic" label.  Just a look at political contributions by some of our "Catholic" hospital executives suggests why these scandalous situations should certainly not be surprising, and why many hospitals will merely continue giving lip service to Catholic teaching!    

So shortly before his departure, Benedict XVI provided clear, pertinent guidance: "The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic.'"

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

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