Health Care Reform is No Place for So-Called “Spirtual Healing”

November 24, 2009

The press is finally catching on to the fact that members of Congress are backing provisions that would allow "spiritual healing" to be covered by health care. In yesterday's Washington Post, William Wan discusses the potential provision, backed by John Kerry (D-Mass) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), which would allow Christian Scientists to be reimbursed for the use of prayer healing, which usually costs a staggering $20-$40 per hour.

This type of "spiritual healing" made headlines recently when a couple from Wisconsin were sentenced to 6 months in prison and 10 years probation for the death of their 11-year old daughter, who died from a treatable form of diabetes that the parents "treated" through prayer. Earlier in the year, a Minnesotan woman tried to hide her son from authorities in order to prevent him from receiving treatment for his curable form of cancer. She did so because medical treatment was against her religion. These are not simply isolated incidents; The Children's Health Care Is a Legal Duty advocacy group estimates that in the past 30 years or so, approximately 300 children have died due to their parents' refusal to have them treated.

It is clear that covering "spiritual healing" in health-care reform would be both dangerous to people's health and fiscally irresponsible. We cannot allow Congress to use our tax dollars to pay for the neglect of a child or for prayers that cannot be proven to have any effect on the patients. Once again, the Center for Inquiry calls for medical practices to be evidence based in nature. There are certainly better uses of the government's money.

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