Online Program

Public funding of religiously-sponsored hospitals that use doctrine to restrict reproductive health care and coverage

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lois J. Uttley, MPP, Community Catalyst, MergerWatch Project/Raising Women's Voices, New York, NY
Religiously-sponsored hospitals are billing governments (local, state and federal) more than $168 billion a year, while many of these facilities are campaigning for expanded legal rights to refuse to provide reproductive health care to their patients or contraceptive coverage to their employees, if it conflicts with institutional religious doctrine. That is one of the preliminary findings from new research being carried out by the MergerWatch Project and the ACLU's Liberty Center. This study, to be released in 2013, will update the groundbreaking 2002 MergerWatch report, “No Strings Attached: Public Funding of Religiously-Sponsored Hospitals in the United States,” which has been repeatedly cited in debates over proposed religious health provider “refusal rights.” Drawing upon institutional cost reports filed with the federal government and compiled in a comprehensive database of hospitals and health systems, this presentation will provide new details about the number, distribution and funding of religiously-sponsored hospitals in the U.S. It will describe the number of religiously-sponsored hospitals that are the sole community providers of health care for entire geographic regions, and receive additional public funding to provide this care. The presentations will also discuss the number and distribution of publicly-owned hospitals that are being managed by religious health systems and are using doctrine to restrict care. It will conclude by assessing the policy implications of these new data.

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 the amount of public funding going to religiously-sponsored hospitals in the United States and discuss whether these facilities should be able to use religious doctrine to deny reproductive health care to their patients and contraceptive coverage to their employees. Evaluate whether health care providers that take public dollars should be expected to provide all medically-indicated reproductive health services in a timely, appropriate manner.

Keyword(s): Religion, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director 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 Public Affairs and Policy. I have served as Chair of the APHA Action Board and Co-Chair of its Joint Policy Committee. 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.