The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) was founded in 1915 as the Catholic Hospital Association of the United States and Canada. The association has offices in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri.
Every year, one in six hospitalized patients in the United States is cared for in a Catholic health care facility. In addition, thousands of elders in the U.S. live and are cared for in Catholic long-term care and other continuum of care facilities. Catholic health care is a ministry of the Roman Catholic Church continuing Jesus' mission of love and healing in the world today. Comprising more than 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care and other health facilities in all 50 states, the Catholic health ministry is the largest group of non-profit health care providers in the nation. Since 1915, these organizations have come together in the Catholic Health Association of the United States to achieve collectively what they could not individually, sharing ideas and strengthening their identity as ministries of the Catholic Church. Through CHA, the ministry raises its passionate voice advocating justice and compassionate care for people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds, from conception to natural death. The association is led by Sr. Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who assumed her duties as president and chief executive officer in 2005.
CHA created a firestorm within the Catholic Church when it defied the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and came out in support of Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The USCCB believes the overhaul could provide for taxpayer funded abortion; the CHA said this was a "false claim". CHA was heavily criticized for subverting the bishops' authority. At least one bishop, Thomas Joseph Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, withdrew his diocese's hospitals from membership in the CHA, saying, "Your enthusiastic support of the legislation, in contradiction of the bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress, misled the public and caused a serious scandal for many members of the church" and said it was "embarrassing" to be associated with the CHA. Archbishop Joseph Naumann said Keehan, who met with Obama before endorsing the bill, was "incredibly naive or disingenuous" for saying that the bill prevented taxpayer funding of abortions. Cardinal Francis George, who was president of the USCCB at the time, reported that he and other bishops tried to reach out to Keehan both before and after the vote; he also said that in choosing Obama over the Church, she had "weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S."