Managed Care Bills Amended: Conscience Protections Added
Newsletter of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference
Volume 14; Issue 3, Summer 1998
Reproduced with permission
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and
Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association have been
working with legislators to ensure the continuation
of Catholic health care in Pennsylvania through
conscience protection amendments to two managed care
bills currently in the state Senate.
Managed care plans typically contract with health
care facilities to provide services to their plan
subscribers. The PCC and PCHA have advocated
conscience clause protection for health care
facilities to protect them from being discriminated
against in contracting because they do not provide a
"full range of services." The "full service" that
managed care organizations may seek can include
abortions, sterilizations, family planning services,
and other activities religious institutions would
find ethically objectionable.
The conscience clause, as amended into Senate
Bill 100, the Quality Healthcare Protection Act,
and House Bill 977, the Managed Care
Accountability Act, would protect the rights of
hospitals, nursing homes, or managed care
organizations that refuse to provide, arrange, or
pay for health care services that violate religious
or moral beliefs.
Without conscience protection, Catholic health
care providers could be marginalized, and due to
patient population loss, be forced to curtail or
discontinue services, according to Sister Clare
Christi Schiefer, OSF, president of the PCHA. Both
Sister Schiefer and PCC legal counsel Richard
Connell, Esq. have been working to protect the
interests of PA's Catholic health care facilities,
which served more than 3.6 million people in 1996.
Representative Tom Tangretti (D-Westmoreland) was
instrumental in having the conscience protection
language amended to both bills. "We're grateful to
Rep. Tangretti for his commitment to protecting the
continuation of Catholic health care," said PCC
Executive Director Robert O'Hara. The amended
conscience clauses clearly require managed care
plans to disclose any coverage limitations, and
permit direct access for those services not provided
because of moral or religious reasons. Rep.
Tangretti's amendment assures that a plan will not
be over-compensated when, for reasons of conscience,
it does not provide all services.
Because of the broad support for managed care
reform legislation in the House, Senate, and
governor's office, some type of managed care
legislation may likely become law this session.