The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Bishop seeks clarification from Vatican on QualChoice

State insurance department holds hearing on proposed acquisition by CHI subsidiary

Published: April 30, 2014   
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor has “reservations” about plans for Collab Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of Catholic Health Initiatives, to buy QualChoice Holdings.

Catholic Health Initiatives operates St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock, with hospitals in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Morrilton and Sherwood.

QualChoice Holdings, headquartered in Little Rock with an office in Springdale, is the parent company of QCA Health Plan and QualChoice Life and Health Insurance Company. St. Vincent has been a participant in the provider network of QCA Health Plan since its inception in 1996 and an investor since 1999.

The acquisition received final regulatory approval from the Arkansas Insurance Department April 29. A public hearing was held in Little Rock to get input on whether the commissioner should approve the filing.

In a statement issued April 29, Bishop Taylor said, “When I first learned of CHI’s interest in acquiring QualChoice, I had reservations about whether the arrangement would comply with Catholic moral teaching. Diocesan staff members and I have discussed my reservations with representatives of CHI, who have been open and forthcoming. In fact, I believe they are acting in good faith.

“Having given this matter serious thought and prayer, I am not fully convinced by CHI’s reasoning that their acquisition of QualChoice will pose no moral or ethical conflicts.

“One of my duties as the bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock is to ensure that Catholic entities operating in Arkansas do so in a manner that is consistent with the fundamental moral teaching of the Catholic Church. Accordingly, I have submitted a formal Dubium (Latin for ‘doubt’) regarding this matter to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the Vatican office that helps Pope Francis promote and safeguard Church doctrine on faith and morals.

“To my knowledge, that congregation has not previously addressed the moral and ethical issues presented by an acquisition such as this one. A Dubium is not a challenge, nor is it necessarily a negative response. Rather, it is expressing a ‘doubt’ regarding an unresolved issue, which is in need of clarification or resolution by the appropriate Vatican congregation.

“The acquisition of QualChoice by CHI is very different than the proposed sale of Mercy Hospital Hot Springs to Capella Healthcare that I opposed by submitting a formal negative Votum (Latin for ‘opinion’) to the Vatican. In the current situation, CHI need not receive the same approval from a Vatican congregation to acquire QualChoice. Nevertheless, CHI obviously must operate in a manner consistent with fundamental Catholic moral teaching. My hope is that the Dubium I have submitted will bring clarification to an ethical issue that, in my opinion, has not yet been fully resolved with certainty.

“At this time my intention is to remain in dialogue with CHI as we await a response to my Dubium from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

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