President Barack Obama will speak at the Catholic Health Association's 2015 annual membership assembly in June, the association announced Monday.
Obama's speech on the final day of the organization's meeting in Washington will focus on the future of healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare reform has been a defining moment of Obama's presidency, and a measure the CHA has steadfastly supported. The organization drew particular attention for its controversial support of the president's compromise on birth control coverage at not-for-profit religious hospitals.
“We are delighted and honored that President Obama will speak to Catholic healthcare leaders gathered for our 100th anniversary as an association,” said Sister Carol Keehan, the CHA's president and CEO. “As long-time supporters of a healthcare system that works for everyone and pays special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable, we are grateful for the President's leadership on the ACA.”
After religious employers expressed concern over the ACA's requirements for no-cost contraceptive coverage, the CHA said it was satisfied with the Obama administration's solution, determining that companies with religious objections would not have to pay for, or arrange for contraceptive coverage, instead putting that responsibility on the insurer or third-party administrator. That decision put the Catholic provider organization in direct conflict with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which continues to express dissatisfaction with the rule.
The CHA was one of Obama's most reliable allies in getting the Affordable Care Act passed. Keehan wrote in a 2013 Modern Healthcare op-ed that the president's flagship bill would help Catholic systems advance their mission of caring for the underserved.
“As we write the next chapter in America's healthcare story, we do so with a new landscape and a fresh opportunity,” Keehan wrote. “With millions more now covered, we can be newly creative about ensuring the best care for women, minorities, seniors, children and anyone who might be on the margin.”
Over 1,000 people are expected to attend this year's assembly meeting, according to the CHA.