Today, PeaceHealth and Catholic Initiatives jointly announced that their “partnership” talks were suspended.
Of course, the people involved aren’t talking, beyond saying that it had nothing to do with a clash over ethical values or the recent objections from local activists and the American Civil Liberties Union. And PeaceHealth is clear to say that it’s open to working with CHI in the future. So why did the deal die?
Maybe because CHI realized the business model wouldn’t work.
When the news of the deal was first announced in the summer of 2012, CEO Kevin Lofton made a big deal of the fact that one of the reasons the deal was attractive is that CHI was interested in contracting directly with large employers like Boeing.
But employers in the Pacific Northwest tend to have socially progressive leanings, especially when it comes to their own employees. Companies in the Pacific Northwest were among the first to offer benefits to same-sex partnerships decades ago. And when same-sex marriage was headed toward a vote last Fall, the partner coalition was more than 500 strong and included the major heavyweights in the area.
These businesses and advocacy partners support their employees and know that if they were to enter into “exclusive” agreements with a conservative Catholic health partner, there’d be Hell to pay.
A health care “ministry” that says no to contraception, no to abortion under all circumstances, no to honoring a patient’s end-of-life directive if it conflicts with Catholic doctrine, no to tubal ligation, no to vasectomies, no to IVF, is not the type of health system that Washington employees want. Especially when that health system asserts its right to discriminate against anyone for any reason because it’s a “religious institution” exempt from Washington’s progressive anti-discrimination laws.