WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement is being released by Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive office of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):
The Catholic Health Association is both pleased and concerned by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) recent actions on preventive services for women.
We are delighted that health insurance coverage must include critical screening services without any cost-sharing. What to some may seem like small amounts as co-pays for mammograms, pap smears, etc., has proven to be an effective barrier to care for women who have low incomes.
Our hope is that eliminating this barrier will result in earlier diagnosis at a treatable stage of many diseases such as cancer and diabetes. We applaud this aspect of the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and their affirmation by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
However, CHA is very concerned about the inadequacy of the conscience protections with respect to the coverage of contraception. As it stands, the language is not broad enough to protect our Catholic health providers. Catholic hospitals are a significant part of this nation’s health care, especially in the care of the most vulnerable. It is critical that we be allowed to serve our nation without compromising our conscience.
HHS is accepting comments on its definition of religious employer and has invited alternative definitions. We will be submitting written comments to HHS and will continue our dialogue with government officials on the essential need for adequate conscience protections.
We appreciate that the Administration does not intend to include abortifacient drugs as covered contraception. Our comments will address our concerns about the mechanism of action of certain FDA-approved contraceptive drugs.