Oct/06
2013

Not Caring For The Caregivers, All In The Name Of God

Apparently being declared a "religious institution" exempts hospitals from honoring their debt to pensioners. The irony is so thick you can choke on it.
"I felt betrayed, not only by the health care system, but by the Sisters of Charity, and I got betrayed by the church," said Armantina Pelaez, a former crisis counselor at St. Mary's, which quietly converted its federally insured pension plan to an uncovered church plan in 2001. The hospital's pending purchase by a for-profit company will see Pelaez and others get a fraction of their expected pensions. "They don't practice what they preach."[..] Congress set it up that way by crafting an exemption in benefits law to protect churches from government interference in their finances. But the exemption applies to religiously affiliated employers like hospitals and service agencies, including some that have let pension funds dwindle.(AP)
The sad thing is that hospitals that never were associated or affiliated with the catholic church are now looking at such connections as a "way out" of their debt. In the process pension plans that were originally protected are now vulnerable to agencies interested in looting the nest egg.
Meanwhile, workers and retirees from St. Peter's Healthcare System in New Brunswick, N.J., were dismayed in August when the IRS approved the hospital's request for church plan status. That came despite letters to the tax agency from former executives, noting the pension plan "was not established by a church and is not and has never been maintained by a church."
Like many other bloated institutions, the catholic church has its share of woes: mismanaged finances, lascivious representatives, individuals using their position for nefarious reasons. Unlike every other institution, however, the church gets special exemptions on virtually every front: from molesting kids to stealing money. Thanks to "conservative" politicians, the Church maintains its independence. Which means "lack of oversight." As I said before, the irony is thick. The church quite literally doesn't practice what they preach. They're just another mafia.
"When we finally figured out that the pension was gone, I got the sense that I was violated, that somebody stole from me," Ligon said. "It was almost like a Ponzi scheme. You get these statements saying you're doing OK. And then it's like it's all a big joke."
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