The cost of Catholic Healthcare

The cost of Catholic Healthcare

There’s an article in Modern Healthcare magazine (paid subscription required) about the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic medical institutions in the US, how it lost $1.9 million last year, but the president’s salary rose by 19 percent. And who’s paying for it? In good liberal fashion, the US taxpayers are being stuck with the bill:

    The CHA’s financial picture comes at a time when the association is lobbying Congress for more funding, saying that Catholic hospitals are the nation’s safety-net providers and as such deserve special treatment and more funding from the government.

So as we view that distubring picture of an ailing organization with its hand held out to the taxpayer, let’s see exactly how much Father Michael LaPlace, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is making every year as president of the CHA.

    Despite these pleas and the weak investment market, Place saw his overall compensation grow in fiscal 2002 by 19% to $672,664, which includes salary, benefit plans and expense accounts. Place, who has headed the CHA since 1998, took home $566,383 in the previous year ended June 30, 2001.

That’s a whole lot of cash for a priest to be making and for the head of a non-profit organization. The article says he donates about 10 percent to the Catholic Church.

How does the organization justify such a salary and such a huge increase?

    Chief Financial Officer Rhonda Mueller defended the escalating salaries and said the association’s executive committee decided last year to adjust executives’ salaries to be more competitive with the marketplace.

Because Catholic priests are in high demand to head up large health care organizations.

And this comes at a time when many Catholic medical institutions are losing their Catholc identity. As hospitals merge, the religious orders and dioceses that controlled them give in to pressure from their doctors and state regulators to provide abortions, contraceptives, and sterilization services. It’s a huge scandal what has happened to Catholic health care. Why do we even bother running Catholic hospitals—or Catholic schools and colleges for that matter—if there’s nothing that sets them apart from secular institutions? Either we should get out of the business altogether, stripping these places of their Catholic names to avoid any confusion, or we should reclaim them as Catholic and places where the Gospel is preached by deeds of charity.

Of course, looking at the Catholic Health Association—and the ridiculous salary of the priest-in-charge is only a symptom—I don’t see much hope of reform coming from that direction. Calling all bishops! If we can distract you from the Scandal long enough, could you clean this up for us?