Obama Credits Sr. Carol Keehan With Passage of Obamacare

by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 11, 2015   

"We would not have gotten the Affordable Care Act done had it not been for her"

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President Obama addressed the Catholic Health Association Wednesday at the group's centenary, claiming Obamacare could not have passed without the CHA's support.

Obama started out his speech with high praise for Sister Carol Keehan, president of the CHA. "I don't know whether this is appropriate, but I just told Sister Carol I love her." He continued, "We would not have gotten the Affordable Care Act done had it not been for her."

He went on to compliment the work of the CHA, also crediting it with passage of Obamacare. "I'm here today to say thank you for your tireless efforts to make health reform a reality. Without your commitment to compassionate care, without your moral force, we would not have succeeded. We would not have succeeded had it not been for you and the foundation you had laid."

Keehan, president of the CHA since 2005, is widely credited with getting Obamacare passed, lending moral credibility to the controversial healthcare law in spite of the bishops' loud disapproval. When the bishops criticized the ACA for language requiring the insured to subsidize abortions and contraception, Keehan publicly opposed the bishops by issuing a statement in praise of the law.

Keehan briefly sided with the bishops in 2012 when it was revealed Obamacare would force religious orders to provide insurance covering contraception and abortifacients. Obama conferred privately with Keehan on a proposed revision, which Keehan approved, in spite of the U.S. bishops' continuing opposition to the law. She afterwards announced, "The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions."

The CHA was founded in 1915, and is the country's largest organization of non-profit hospitals, employing more than 750,000 people. Some speculate Keehan's strong push for Obamacare has to do with the fact that her organization stood to benefit from the ACA's passage, as more money in the form of federal funds would go to Catholic hospitals within the CHA.

The ACA has in fact proven to be a financial windfall for the hospital industry, wiping out nearly $6 billion in uncompensated care because of more paying patients, while hospital stocks have risen dramatically. According to one report,

Profits at HCA Holdings Inc., the largest publicly traded hospital chain, jumped 18 percent to $1.7 billion for the first nine months of 2014 compared with the same period a year earlier. The Nashville company's shares have soared 53 percent this year. ... Insurance giant Anthem Inc. signed up nearly 800,000 people on Obamacare exchanges across the country. Its shares rose 33 percent year to date — three times the increase in the broader Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. ... HCA reported a 55 percent decline in uninsured patients and 30 percent growth in Medicaid business in five states where it operates and where the program was expanded.

Keehan receives annual salary and benefits totaling nearly $1 million. According to CHA's Form 990 from 2010, all proceeds go to Keehan's religious order the Daughters of Charity — although certain sizeable "fringe benefits" are reserved to her.

While the Daughters of Charity have been vague on the exact amount of these "fringe benefits," a breakdown of Keehan's salary for that year shows a base compensation of $682,982, bonus and incentive compensation of $136,000, and "Other reportable compensation" of $131,888. Finally, nontaxable benefits were $11,597. All told, her compensation was $962,467.

With the avalanche of federal funds secured through Obamacare, it's unlikely Sr. Keehan will suffer a pay cut anytime soon.


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