Century Marks

Century Marks

Health industry

In 2011 Catholic hospitals received $27 billion from public sources—almost half of their revenues. Some critics have charged that Catholic hospitals have been on a merger spree in recent years, creating corporate entities that are less sensitive to the needs of the poor. Statistics from an American Civil Liberties Union/Merger Watch report seem to support this criticism. Catholic hospitals are now providing less care for the poor than other religious nonprofit hospitals and not much more than secular nonprofit hospitals. They also receive a lower percentage of revenue from Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income and disabled folk, than any other type of hospital, including for-profit ones (Mother Jones, December 18).

Charismatic renewal?

At the invitation of Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, representatives of Chemin Neuf (“New Way”), a Catholic-based charismatic community, are moving into Lambeth Palace, the archbishop of Canterbury’s residence in London. Welby discovered this group before he became a priest and while working for an oil company in France. Chemin Neuf was founded 40 years ago in France as a Catholic prayer group but has since become ecumenical. The group moving into Lambeth Palace includes a Catholic priest, an Anglican couple and a Lutheran seminarian (American Interest, December 18).

Cheap eats

A buck fifty a day is all that separates a good diet from a poor one. That’s the conclusion of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health after studying food prices in ten developed countries. Although $1.50 a day is a pittance for most people in the United States, it adds up to $550 a year—not a small expense for the poor. But compared to the cost of medical problems stemming from poor diets, it still is a very modest price (NPR, December 6).

Pants Sunday

For the second year in a row, Mormon feminists wore pants to church on the second Sunday of December. While there are no specific prescriptions for women to wear skirts or dresses to church, Mormon women face subtle pressure to do so. The organizer of “Wear Pants to Church” Sunday said, “Sometimes at church it feels like we’re asked to adopt gender roles that are very traditional.” One participant said she was more optimistic about the church because of this quiet protest. “There is a future for progressive Mormons,” she said, “that we can do better for the gay community, for women and for people of color” (Reuters).

State by state

Statistics released by the federal government indicate that, through November, the rate of residents signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is three times higher in states embracing the federal law compared to states where its leaders have resisted it. On the one side are mostly Democratic-leaning states that have expanded Medicaid for low-income people and started their own health insurance exchanges. On the other side are states that have refused to expand Medicaid and have not set up their own health insurance exchanges, even though many of them have relatively higher levels of poverty and fewer insured citizens (AP).