Sale to secular corporation opens up the way to abortion, contraception
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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishops of New York have sold off a Catholic health network to a secular corporation, paving the way for contraception and possibly abortion.
Founded in 1993, Fidelis Care is being acquired by Centene Corporation, the country's largest Medicaid managed care organization. With almost 1.7 million members, Fidelis is the dominant player in New York's Medicaid and Qualified Health Plan market.
Also known as the New York State Catholic Health Plan, Fidelis covers natural family planning services but not artificial contraception, sterilization or abortion. The New York dioceses stand to gain $3.75 billion from the transaction.
To comply with the U.S. bishops' Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives, it contracts with third-party insurer Unified IPA to cover "reproductive health services," as mandated by New York State law. Set up in 2013 specifically to cover Fidelis clients, Unified offers contraception, sterilization and "medically necessary abortions," including "abortions in cases of rape, incest or fetal malformation."
If its sale to Centene is approved by the New York attorney general's office, Fidelis will no longer be bound by the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives, opening up the possibility for dispensing of contraceptives, as well as for sterilizations and abortions.
Centene has pledged to "use commercially reasonable good-faith efforts to comply with the protocols and policies ... relating to the ethical and religious directives for Catholic Health Care Services" for only one year after the deal is closed.
In terms of reproductive health coverage, I think the sale of Fidelis to Centene is a win for the women of New York.
But according to activist Lois Uttley, in a 2017 meeting with company executive Chris Koster, she was assured Centene would steer away from the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives as soon as possible.
"It was my impression that it would take place by the end of this year, assuming the transaction went through in 2018," Uttley told pro-abortion website Rewire.News.
Additionally, Rewire.News reported that, according to a company spokesperson, "Once the transaction is finalized, Centene will follow the instruction of New York regulators on all issues."
The attorney general's office has not said if it will force Centene to provide contraception, sterilization or abortion. But according to N.Y. Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo, her office has "advised both Fidelis and Centene that, if the acquisition transaction is approved and executed, all of the coverages required by New York and federal law, and DFS regulations mandating contraceptive and abortion coverage, must be provided directly by [Centene]."
Fidelis' $3.75 billion sale is a windfall for the dioceses of New York.
On May 8, Cdl. Timothy Dolan announced the creation of a new philanthropic foundation for low-income residents. With $3.2 billion in assets from the outset, the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation will make up to $150 million in grants each year.
Cardinal Dolan said the foundation will "provide assistance to needy New Yorkers of every color, every religion, and every background" and seek to "transform the lives of underserved New Yorkers from all corners of the state and set a national model for addressing the health and wellness needs of low-income communities."
Abortion activists, meanwhile, are praising the move as an opportunity to expand contraception and sterilization.
"In terms of reproductive health coverage," Uttley told Rewire.News, "I think the sale of Fidelis to Centene is a win for the women of New York."