Univ. of CA’s Planned Partnership With Catholic Hospitals Raises Legal Concerns May 12, 2019

Univ. of CA’s Planned Partnership With Catholic Hospitals Raises Legal Concerns

The University of California may enter into a partnership with a Catholic hospital, and some are saying the deal itself is unconstitutional.

We posted last month that UC officials were considering an “affiliation” between its San Francisco teaching hospital and Dignity Health, which routinely discriminates against women and LGBTQ people by refusing care that would violate Catholic doctrine.

Now, the LA Times says there are legal problems with the deal.

Legal experts warn that affiliations between a public entity such as UC and a religious organization are inherently dubious. Regents and UCSF administrators seem to be aware of that, up to a point.

I’m not sure we can do this,” Regent Sherry Lansing, chair of the board’s Health Services Committee and a supporter of the affiliation, said at a committee meeting Dec. 11.

This relationship will require constant monitoring to make sure that we’re not putting our organization, the university or any individuals in circumstances in which they’re uncomfortable,” UCSF Medical Center Chief Executive Mark Laret said at the same meeting.

This potential deal is wrong for so many reasons, but it’s good to know it may be illegal, as well. Maybe that fear will give opponents a chance to actually stop it. The best hope we have is a group called Protect California Patients, which has gone on the attack against the proposed partnership with a public letter that has the signatures of hundreds of doctors in the UCSF system.

While UCSF has professional relationships with three Catholic hospitals in the Dignity Health system, they want to expand that and make it more formal. One of the many problems is that the school isn’t sharing any details.

Although the new arrangement would plainly be more comprehensive than the old, UCSF administrators have been close-mouthed about the details. The plan “has not been finalized,” UCSF spokeswoman Jennifer O’Brien told me this week.

Yet that only underscores doubts about how familiar the regents are with UCSF’s plans. The board’s Health Services Committee has held discussions about it at least twice, on Dec. 11 and April 9.

This plan is secretive, harmful, and potentially unlawful. If the ultimate goal is to help patients, then working with a Catholic hospital is among the worst ways to make that happen. The people in the community deserve better than a public university caving in to Catholic dogma.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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