Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Interfaith Alliance Makes Recommendations to Obama on Faith-Based Initiatives.
For Immediate Release
March 9, 2010
Contact: Ari Geller - Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
Interfaith Alliance Calls for Quick Implementation of
Recommendations From President’s Advisory Council
Washington, DC –Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today urging the president to move quickly to implement the recommendations of his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Rev. Gaddy was a member of the taskforce charged with making recommendations on the reform of the faith-based office in the White House.
The recommendations made by the advisory council go a long way toward bringing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in line with the Constitution. I have made no secret of my desire to see this office closed, but if it is going to continue, it must do so – and can do so – in a way that respects the boundaries between religion and government.
The ball is in the president’s court now. Until the president takes action, these are only recommendations. Until he takes action, we are still working under the same guidelines used by the Bush Administration which allowed for untold damage to befall the institutions of religion and government. I have urged the administration to implement the recommendations via executive order as soon as possible.
The recommendations presented to the president will not only strengthen the constitutional foundations of the office, they will protect the religious freedom rights of social service beneficiaries, increase transparency, and most importantly, ensure that government money does not flow directly to houses of worship.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance has 185,000 members across the country from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.
Denver Struggles to Keep Reproductive Services at Hospitals Slated for Catholic Takeover.
The unexpected delay by the Federal Trade Commission to bless the transaction may provide local critics with a last gasp effort to continue fighting the deal. Community members and medical professionals contend the transfer would unfairly subject comprehensive reproductive health and end-of-life care to church doctrine over patients’ needs. The Catholic church considers abortion, contraception, elective sterilization and termination of invasive life support as “intrinsically evil” and refuses to provide these medical services or respect patients’ advance directives.
The disputed takeover in Denver exemplifies the very serious implications for the 127 non-denominational hospitals that succumbed to merger fever with cash-flush Catholic health care systems in the 1990s. According to a study by Catholics for Choice, half of merged secular-Catholic hospitals suspended most or all of their reproductive health care services. Eighty-two percent denied emergency contraception to rape victims — and more than a third refused to provide a referral.
But for some tax-exempt, nonprofit hospitals co-owned by secular and church interests, there was little more than a wink and a nod to church mandates on care. Comprehensive reproductive healthcare services quietly remained available.
These practices received higher scrutiny in 2001 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops revised its Ethical and Religious Directives for medical care to address “misinterpretation and misapplication of the principle of cooperation with other-than-Catholic organizations.” In other words, the church would no longer turn a blind eye to reproductive health and end-of-life care at its secular partner facilities that did not meet strict Catholic orthodoxy.
More importantly, the local hospital policymaking was a little noticed precursor to the bare knuckles strategy on recent display with the church’s relentless lobbying for the 2009 Stupak and Nelson amendments to further restrict access to abortion care via publicly-subsidized health insurance plans. At the same time, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., threatened to end social service programs for tens of thousands of poor residents if the city council approved a same-sex marriage ordinance.
Now, the Denver hospital takeover is offering a glimpse of the intense pressure being brought to bear by the church on its healthcare partners. The Vatican’s renewed insistence on complete doctrinal influence on patient care is bolstered by very real threats to hold desperately needed institutional capital funds hostage until its theological demands are met.
It's a great article, full of helpful facts and information. You can read the entire piece here.
How We Define Death And The Future of Hospice.
I contacted a couple of leading hospice executives to ask them if the declining enrollments trend is true. One said that hospice patient census fluctuates up and down for all sorts of reasons, but that his agency's is up, after a sharp drop in 2008. But Samira Beckwith, CEO of the highly successful Hope Hospice and Palliative Care in Fort Myers, Florida, responds, "I think that everything [Gleckman] says in his article is true." One of the problems, she says, is that America's hospices still have not successfully communicated the idea that hospice care means "living" as fully and as well as possible until death comes. Instead, Americans have learned a little bit about hospice and believe it means "they have to die really soon if they say yes."
The problems of misunderstanding, misconceptions and mistrust of hospice care by people confronting hard choices at the end of life have been around throughout the history of hospice in America, even as the number of people receiving hospice care has steadily grown, up to 1.45 million in 2008. Physicians' reluctance to bring up the "H" word with their terminally ill patients has been well-documented. The second-guessing of hospices' enrollment decisions by Medicare has also intensified recently, but is not a new phenomenon. A similar round of government scrutiny occurred in the mid-1990s. And still the trends of the number of hospices, number of patients served and total Medicare outlays have pointed steadily upward since the first U.S. hospice opened in 1974 and since Medicare began paying for hospice care in 1984.
The MBAs who run fast food or pharmacy chains are taught that when your company or your industry stops growing, it is already dying. But is that the right model for a service designed to promote compassionate, individualized, quality of life-promoting care for dying patients and their families? Shouldn't hospice's goal be to offer a meaningful option to all those who might need it and want it, and who might qualify, according to the rules of those who would pay for it, as being terminally ill -- rather than just continuing to grow? And if there is a current decline in referrals, given the recent proliferation and rampant competition of mom-and-pop hospice providers, particularly in certain metro areas and in the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma, perhaps what's happening now is what the economists might call a necessary market correction.I tend to disagree with Beresford and here's why: hospice is really the only option for patients who wish to die at home and so, as long as statistics continue to show that a majority of Americans wish to die at home (80%) and that most continue to die in facilities (75%) there's room for hospice to grow.