Catholic healthcare providers took to heart the biblical admonishment to love thy neighbor as thyself as evidenced by the pace of their consolidations with both Catholic and non-Catholic providers in the past quarter-century.
The consolidations have helped to create some of the biggest players in healthcare today. Catholic systems account for four of the country's 10 largest healthcare systems when ranked by net patient revenue, according to Modern Healthcare's most recent Hospital Systems Survey (June 4, p. 36).
But consolidation in Catholic healthcare hasn't come without controversy, especially in deals between Catholic and non-Catholic facilities. The controversy arises when these deals result in the termination of some women's reproductive services, such as elective sterilization, at a non-Catholic hospital because Catholic Church rules prohibit such services.
The debate is likely to continue, because the National Conference of Catholic Bishops recently revised church rules to require the Catholic partner in a deal with a non-Catholic hospital to distance itself further from any controversial services.