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Health Care: Ethical Foundations and Framework

Project Description

The project gathers theologians, ethicists, and health care professionals from a variety of religious traditions to develop and promote a new model for how religious organizations can insure that the religious, moral, and cultural perspectives of patients and health care providers are incorporated into the development of new national health care policy.

The project holds public events to that compare multiple faiths’ approach to a range of health care issues, and hare modeled on the successful Woodstock Forum from April 2008 on “Values Inside the Issues: Religious Voices on Health Care Reform”, which featured Father Kevin FitzGerald, S.J., holder of the David Lauler Chair for Catholic Health Care Ethics at the Georgetown University Medical Center's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, a physician and chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics; Rabbi David Saperstein, a lawyer and director of the Washington-based Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism; Zubair Saeed, a physician and health director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, Virginia.

Father Kevin FitzGerald, S.J., speaking at the 2008 Forum on “Values Inside the Issues: Religious Voices on Health Care Reform”

Project Goals

The current debate on national health care policy involves vast quantities of information – and many perspectives – on the financial and regulatory framework for health care. However, there is a relative lack of thoughtful analysis prepared by credible religious leaders and designed use by health care professionals, on the essential role that religion plays in healthcare decisions.

Patients and healthcare workers, when they interact with the healthcare system, are significantly influenced by their religious values. Patients who are minorities (ethnic and religious) receive care that deviates from the norm both intentionally and unintentionally. The “standard of care” widely used by insurance companies does not consider how members with different religious beliefs may select different treatment options.

This project explores, analyzes, and provides insight into how religious beliefs influence micro and macro health decisions for academics, health policy people, and providers. In this way Woodstock will influence the public debate on health care by providing a new approach to the moral foundation and framework of the health care reform discussion. It will provide a model for religious organizations to engage with the medical and health policy professions on these issues.