Online Program

Emerging marketplace trends involving religiously-sponsored health systems that threaten community access to reproductive health care

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Sheila Reynertson, MA, MergerWatch, New York, NY
Due to the industry-wide transformation taking place that encourages hospitals systems to consolidate, there was a record number of merger and acquisitions between 2010 and 2012. As the only women's health advocacy organization in the country tracking this activity, the MergerWatch Project has extrapolated emerging hospital merger trends that involve religiously-sponsored hospitals or health systems that put at risk community access to hospital-based reproductive health care services such as tubal ligations, emergency contraception, abortion, infertility services and prompt, appropriate treatment of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. This presentation will describe the increasing prevalence of for-profit health systems acquiring religiously-sponsored hospitals and agreeing to maintain some or all religious restrictions. It will describe dynamic changes taking place within religious health systems such as the merging of two Catholic systems with distinctly different cultures in order to increase their market share and Catholic Healthcare West's decision to cut ties with the Catholic Church while maintaining some religious restrictions in order to become more competitive. It will describe the development of religiously-sponsored health systems creating accountable care organizations (ACOs) which could introduce religious restrictions into Medicaid delivery programs. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the unique situation in Washington State where 40% of all hospitals are controlled by religiously-sponsored health systems and another 10% are considering transactions with a religious partner, which could leave large geographic regions without comprehensive reproductive health care services.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe emerging merger trends that involve religiously-sponsored health systems and discuss how these market-driven transactions are negatively affecting community access to reproductive health care. Evaluate Washington State as a case study, where hospitals are increasingly owned or operated by religiously-sponsored health systems.

Keyword(s): Religion, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Advocacy Coordinator of MergerWatch, a 15-year-old national initiative working to protect access to reproductive health services when secular hospitals merge with religiously-sponsored hospitals or health systems. I hold a Master's in Health Advocacy. I serve on the Board of Health in Hopewell, NJ. I recently published an article on this topic in the NYS Bar Association Health Law Journal.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.