Over the past several years, there has been a sharp uptick in the number of Catholic hospitals in the U.S. In 2013, a joint study by MergerWatch and the ACLU found that the ten largest hospital networks in the nation were Catholic-affiliated, a result of sections in the Affordable Care Act that encourage and facilitate mergers. In most of these mergers, Catholic organizations featured as dominant partners.
In theory, this spike in mergers should have saved struggling hospitals and maintained community access to healthcare while creating more efficient systems that lowered the cost of that healthcare. And it might have, too, if the Catholic organizations involved had not shaped their medical directives to advance religious beliefs over patient health.