On Page 4 of the current issue, you’ll see a story on the annual White Mass offered for healthcare professionals, which ArchCare organizes in St. Patrick’s Cathedral each year. It is an excellent way to join in prayerful support of ArchCare’s mission to provide top-quality healthcare and other services to thousands of people across the archdiocese each day.
Later last week, another prayer effort in which ArchCare was participating came to my attention. This one was pegged to the national healthcare legislation much in the news as Senate Republicans sought to gather support for the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
The folks at ArchCare, and other faith-based healthcare providers, joined together to speak on behalf of vulnerable patients who stand to be big losers if the legislation passed into law is anywhere close to what was being proposed, ArchCare’s president and CEO Scott LaRue told me in a phone interview last Friday morning, June 30.
He said New York faces Medicaid cuts that would be greater than those experienced by any other state.
On June 28, ArchCare and many other faith-based healthcare providers each met in their own spaces and recited a common prayer written by Father John Anderson of ArchCare the week before.
Called “Faith Together for Care—What We Owe to One Another Matters,” the prayer says in part, “As people of faith, we pray that respect for the common good includes the needs of those who struggle in society, because what we owe to one another matters.”
It called for a healthcare policy that “protects all human life and dignity” and urges that “we who have been given so much, including comprehensive quality healthcare, recognize that right for other people.”
The refrain continued to offer the simple reminder that “what we owe to one another matters.”
ArchCare employees gathered to recite Father Anderson’s prayer in the auditorium at Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It wasn’t a coincidental choice of venue. The people served by TCC programs reflect the faces of individuals served by Medicaid better than any other healthcare facility in New York state, LaRue said. They include those living with HIV, significant developmental disabilities, and challenging economic and social backgrounds that contribute to their complex healthcare needs.
A webinar connected them with other ArchCare facilities from Staten Island to Rhinebeck. The message was that everyone who gathered, from individuals who would be impacted by the bill, to employees and healthcare officials and community leaders, had a role to play.
“We prayed that the people making the decisions understand the impact it would have on the people that we serve,” LaRue said.
That day, LaRue also delivered some frank remarks about the people ArchCare serves who would be left behind by the legislation, citing Pope Francis’ recent comments about a “global culture of indifference.”
“The Holy Father said that too many people who consider themselves respectable are content to ignore the needs of others and leave them—even entire populations—by the side of the road,” LaRue said.
“That is exactly what the politicians who support the House and Senate bills are doing. They are turning their backs on the thousands of elderly and disabled people for whom we care each day. They are closing their eyes and pretending that the tens of millions of people in this country who rely on Medicaid do not exist.”
“Let us join what Pope Francis has called a revolution of tenderness. Tenderness means using our eyes to see others, our ears to hear others, our hands and hearts to comfort others, and our voices to protect others.”
The folks at ArchCare may not win every battle on behalf of their most vulnerable patients, but they won’t be accused of standing quietly in the corner as others acted. They are joining their voices in prayer and advocating for those they serve. For a Catholic healthcare organization, that’s a pretty good combination.