Sunday, August 21, 2011

Freakazoids Trying to Steal Public Hospital

Some American Catholics like to pretend they are the reasonable faction of the freakazoids. They're educated and even liberal supporters of the social safety net, not like those mouth-breathing fundamentalists.

But when it comes to treating women like sub-human wombs-for-sale, Catholics lap the field. As I wrote last month, Catholics attempting to merge with the University of Louisville hospital let it slip that once they took over, women would no longer receive tubal ligations at the university's public, taxpayer-supported hospital.

To Kentucky's credit, this caused a huge uproar, inspiring both the Democratic governor and the Democratic attorney general to announce the merger would not go through unless the Catholics guaranteed full services to everyone.

But instead of backing down, Catholics and the University of Louisville - to the university's everlasting shame - doubled down. Kentucky's elected officials can't tell them what to do, they claimed, because University Hospital - which receives millions of taxpayer dollars every year - is not a public institution.

Superb analysis from the Courier:

It’s the main teaching hospital for the University of Louisville, and faculty doctors of that state university treat the patients there. It gets millions of dollars from state and local governments to treat the poor, and its facility was built and is owned by the state.

But in the midst of community debate over plans to merge University Hospital into a new statewide Catholic health care system, U of L officials insist the hospital isn’t a public institution. They say it is a private facility because it is managed by the nonprofit University Medical Center Inc., not by a government agency.

“University Hospital is NOT a public hospital,” U of L asserted recently on a website defending the controversial proposed merger with Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and St. Joseph Health System of Lexington.

The distinction could be important to winning acceptance for the merger, given the protests of Kentucky legislators, advocates for the poor and others who maintain that Louisville’s “public hospital” shouldn’t be subject to Catholic directives against sterilization and birth control, as it would be under the merger.

That issue has prompted widespread calls to rethink the deal, in large part because of resistance to making low-income women who rely on University Hospital be subject to one religion’s rules on reproductive care.

The hospitals involved in the Kentucky merger have agreed to follow Catholic policies because Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, the owner of St. Joseph, will own 70 percent of the new venture. Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who must sign off on the merger because the still-unnamed new system will be a considered a ministry of the Catholic Church, has said he will approve the deal only if all participating hospitals keep their pledge to honor the church’s health care directives.

The local debate is somewhat unusual nationally. Although mergers between Catholic and secular hospital systems are common, they have almost always involved clearly private hospitals, not ones like University Hospital, with such strong government ties.

Amid the debate, Gov. Steve Beshear and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway have said they consider University Hospital a public institution by virtue of its real-estate ownership, state contracts, and its long history as the area’s safety-net hospital.

I have a solution. Cut the University of Louisville loose. You love the Catholic freakazoids so much, you greedy, lying motherfuckers, then the Catholic freakazoids can support your fat ass from now on. Not another fucking taxpayer dime for you, U of L.

Not. Another. Fucking. Dime.

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