American Catholic bishops will make a decision this week that could affect mergers, partnerships and other deals between Catholic health systems and non-Catholic providers.
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are scheduled to vote on whether to revise a section of their Ethical and Religious Directives at their fall general assembly Nov. 10-13 in Baltimore.
The directives provide moral guidance to Catholic health systems on various aspects of healthcare delivery. All Catholic healthcare institutions must comply with those directives.
Up for debate is part six of the directives, “Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations and Providers.”
The bishops will vote on whether to adopt guidance received in February from the Vatican.
That guidance includes principles to ensure that Catholic healthcare institutions “neither cooperate immorally with the unacceptable procedures conducted in other healthcare entities with which they may be connected nor cause scandal as a result of their collaboration with such other entities.”
If the bishops decide to adopt the principles, their doctrine committee will draft a revision that will be considered by the bishops.
Some Catholic mergers have sparked controversy over questions of whether those deals would limit the availability of medical services prohibited by the directives, including reproductive services.