The Catholic Health Association is losing its chief Washington lobbyist just as the lame-duck Congress is expected to consider legislation giving hospitals and other providers more than $32 billion in payment relief.
After less than a year on the job, Maureen McCullough, the CHA's vice president for public policy and advocacy, said last week that she would resign her post effective Dec. 8.
McCullough was paid $151,504 in the fiscal year ended June 30, according to the CHA's most recent annual filing with the Internal Revenue Service (Nov. 27, p. 14).
In a written statement, McCullough, 47, said she was resigning to pursue what she called "exciting professional opportunities" in Pennsylvania, where she has relatives.
In the same statement, the Rev. Michael Place, the CHA's president and chief executive officer, said McCullough brought "dedication and a high level of energy and enthusiasm" to the association's lobbying efforts, especially in getting relief from the payment restrictions mandated by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Neither McCullough nor Place offered further comment.
McCullough's is the second major departure from the CHA's lobbying shop this year.
In June, Jack Bresch, director of legislative affairs, resigned after nearly 17 years with the association. Since then, Bresch has worked as a consultant to the group.
McCullough's resignation came as a surprise to Thomas Scully, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents for-profit providers. But he added that her departure won't hurt the association's lobbying clout in Washington.
The St. Louis-based CHA represents more than 2,000 Roman Catholic healthcare providers, including hospitals, health systems and health plans. The CHA employs 85 people--71 at its St. Louis headquarters and 14 in its Washington office.
McCullough's departure adds to the executive turnover at the CHA since Place took over in 1998. Since then, at least six key executives have left.
In the interim, the CHA's lobbying and advocacy efforts will be handled by Fish Brown, director of public policy, and Michael Rodgers, director of government relations.
McCullough, who joined the CHA in late December 1999, previously had worked as vice president of advocacy and community health at Newtown Square, Pa.-based Catholic Health East, which has 32 hospitals.
At the CHA, McCullough replaced William Cox, who resigned in September 1998. He is now president and CEO of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Alliance of Catholic Health Care.
A search is under way for McCullough's replacement.