July/August 2000

Capitol Hill Hears from Catholic Health Care During Advocacy Days

07-00group Photo

During the Catholic Health Systems Legislative Conference and Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., a contingent organized by Mark Thompson, director of marketing and community relations for St. Francis Healthcare Services of Wilmington, Del., met with Senator William Roth, Jr. (R-Del.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The advocates included (from left) Karin Dufault, SP, chair of the board of Providence Health System and a member of the Catholic Health Initiatives Board of Stewardship Trustees; Rev. Michael D. Place, STD, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association; Senator Roth; Thompson; and Geraldine Hoyler, CSC, senior vice president, finance and treasury for Catholic Health Initiatives.

Fifteen representatives of Catholic Health Initiatives and its market-based organizations were among 120 ministry leaders from across the country who participated in the Catholic Health Systems Legislative Conference and Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., July 17-18. In addition to networking with peers from other Catholic health systems, the attendees met with legislators on Capitol Hill. "Our participants took the initiative to set up more than 30 visits with their congressional leaders to discuss local and national health care issues," said Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD, senior vice president of advocacy for Catholic Health Initiatives.

While many issues compete for legislators’ attention, Scanlon said there seemed to be a great deal of interest in what Catholic Health Initiatives’ representatives had to say on behalf of the communities they serve. "For example, after Marlene Krein, the president and chief executive officer of Mercy Hospital in Devils Lake, met with the senators from North Dakota, both senators decided to co-sponsor one of the two current bills seeking Balanced Budget Act relief," said Scanlon. The Catholic Health Initiatives’ delegation also spoke with lawmakers about the need to expand health care coverage for children, legal immigrants and other vulnerable populations.

To gain further support for Balanced Budget Act relief, Scanlon encourages market-based organization leaders who have not done so already to contact their legislators as soon as possible. "There is still time to have our message heard before Congress is scheduled to adjourn in October," she said. "The two bills, which each have Senate and House versions, address restoring the full market-basket increase in Medicare inpatient payments and increasing the caps on Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments. These issues are vitally important." Lists of legislators who have yet to co-sponsor the bills are available in the advocacy public folder on the Catholic Health Initiatives e-mail system, along with template letters that can be used to urge support.