Consejo de Latinos Unidos, Los Angeles, unveiled a campaign to persuade Roman Catholic hospitals in Arizona, California, Colorado and Ohio to reduce prices for uninsured and underinsured patients. The group's executive director, K.B. Forbes, said he will run radio ads criticizing unfair practices and try to meet with church leadership, lay members and government officials to discuss inequities in hospital charges and high executive compensation. He criticized tiered payment schedules based on income, saying the method ignores uninsured and underinsured middle-class patients. He also accused Catholic and other faith-based hospitals of using their religious mission to obscure unfair pricing policies.
Joyce Ross, a spokeswoman for Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, one of the systems Forbes plans to target, disputed his contentions and said the system's religious mission was a vital part of its healthcare. Officials at Centura Health, a Denver-based unit of CHI, Catholic Healthcare West in San Francisco and Catholic Healthcare Partners in Cincinnati -- the other systems Forbes identified as current or future targets -- declined to discuss Consejo de Latinos' campaign specifically but defended their practices. -- by Paul Barr