ICHA Executive Director’s Report – September, 2016

RECENT ACTIVITIES

During the third quarter of 2016 ICHA’s Executive Director continued to meet individually with leadership and is responding to various challenges facing Catholic healthcare in Illinois. Most recently, ICHA is working with Presence Health after they were denied tax incentive financing (TIF) for a new cancer facility. The ACLU and others complained that because Presence Health operates under the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services they deny certain procedures to women and, therefore, should not have access to public funds.

ICHA is continuing to work with the Illinois Catholic Conference (CCI) on the issue of providing marriage benefits to employees who enter into a same gender marriage. Currently, we are exploring various options, including the option of providing healthcare benefits to “Legally Domiciled Adults” (LDA) rather than spouses. Much more work needs to be done on this issue.

ICHA is currently putting the final plans to the November 10th Annual Meeting. Unfortunately, our scheduled keynote speaker, Archbishop Blase Cupich, will need to be in Rome during our Annual Meeting and has designated Fr. William Grogan, his Vicar for Healthcare, to provide the keynote address. Additional speakers are Lisa Gilden, from CHA, will be discussing religious liberty and conscience protection and MC Sullivan, from the Archdiocese of Boston, will be addressing the issue of physician assisted suicide.

There were three changes on ICHA’s Board of Directors.  Michael Englehart will be taking the place of Kevin Schoeplein.  The second change is that Beth Florczak will be taking the place Nancy Razo.  Finally, the third change is that Sr. Jomary Trstensky will be rejoining the Board.

2016 UPCOMING MEETINGS

ICHA will be attending the White Mass in Springfield on October 15, 2016.

ADVOCACY UPDATE

On July 29, 2016 Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1564 into law. The law will take effect on January 1, 2017.  The new law amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act by requiring healthcare facilities, including physicians’ offices, to develop “access to care and information protocols” that ensure that conscience-based objections are handled in a timely manner.  After meeting with CCI and some ICHA members, ICHA distributed a memo to all members outlining the changes in the law, and ICHA’s recommended action.

Also, ICHA continues to follow the State Supreme Court case, Carle Hospital v. Cunningham Township, which will determine if the State’s tax-exemption law for not-for-profit hospitals is constitutional.  An unfavorable ruling against Carle Hospital will have dire consequence for our Catholic hospitals. At the direction of Archbishop Cupich, ICHA convened a working group with CCI to determine if ICHA should submit an amicus brief in this case or possibly sign on to the Illinois Hospital Association’s (IHA) brief.  After much discussion and review, it was decided that ICHA should not involve itself in this case.

On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Zubik v. Burwell and related cases challenging the Health and Human Services (“HHS”) mandate. The HHS mandate requires health plans to cover contraceptives (including abortifacient contraceptives) and sterilization procedures.  Religious nonprofit organizations are not exempt from the mandate.  In a set of cases involving the Little Sisters of the Poor and a number of other religious organizations, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court decisions that it had taken up for review and sent those cases back to the lower courts.

Because of this ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS), asked for comments from the public on how best to accommodate stakeholders who have religious objections to contraceptive and sterilization coverage, while assuring that people with no religious objection to such coverage can still obtain it. Working with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), ICHA submitted recommended comments to HHS.

MISSION EDUCATION

As an update on ICHA’s Chaplaincy Education Program with the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), ICHA continues to register participants. To date, 158 persons registered for the course; 94 have completed it.

ICHA FINANCES

ICHA continues to operate under a balanced budget. ICHA recently developed their FY 16-17 budget which was recommended unanimously by the Finance Committee and approved by the Board on March 10th. Invoices for the FY 16-17 dues were sent out on July 1st. Follow up notices went out in early September for those few who have not yet paid their dues.

ICHA finalized its financial compilation (in place of an annual fiscal audit) and distributed it to the Finance Committee and the Board of Directors. The review was done by the firm Hochfelder & Weber.

CONCLUSION

Thank you for all you do on behalf of the ministry. We continue to look for better ways to serve you and are always open to new ideas.  If ICHA may assist you in any way, please contact me anytime at pcacchione@il-cha.org.

 

We look forward to welcoming you to ICHA’s Annual Meeting on November 10, 2016!