Health Care Reform Proposals Would Pay Christian Scientists to Pray

October 13, 2009

Last week I wrote about the successful push by proponents of complimentary and alternative medicine to snag taxpayer dollars for bogus treatments that have no basis in reality.  (Recall CFI's report by Jean Mielczarek on Therapeutic Touch therapy.)  This week the St. Petersburg Times reports on Christian Scientist practitioners' attempts to qualify prayer-based "healing" for coverage in proposed health care reform bills.  Under this scheme, your taxpayer dollars would reimburse Christian Scientists for praying.

In an environment of spiraling health care costs, you would think the government would want to spend its resources intelligently - say, by covering therapies that have a proven track record of actually improving health, or at least therapies we have a reasonable basis for believing will work.  You would also think that a glaringly obvious church-state violation might give legislators some pause.  How to convince Congress and the public to endorse a "Pay-to-Pray" scheme?  Portray it as an issue of "discrimination" against religion.  As Phil Davis, manager of Christian Science's global media and legislative affairs, puts it:

It's so important that anyone in this country, not just Christian Scientists, not be discriminated against because they use spiritual care or rely on it instead of conventional medical treatment.

Legislative proposals embodying the church's goals were included, among elsewhere, in draft bills from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The St. Petersburg Times reports that a similar amendment was introduced in the Senate Finance Committee by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Orin Hatch (R-UT), but did not come up for a vote.  A Kerry spokesperson says that the concept is included in another Senate bill.

Sadly, like the alt med industry's successful subversion of health care reform, the push to pay for prayer using taxpayer dollars has received little attention from the press.


#1 Rhology on Tuesday October 13, 2009 at 9:20am

Are these Mary Baker Eddy Christian Scientists, or are these scientists who are also Christians?

Those two are not interchangeable, so I’m just wondering.

#2 Derek C. Araujo on Tuesday October 13, 2009 at 1:05pm

To clarify, by “Christian Scientists” (capital “S”), I am indeed referring to the followers of Mary Baker Eddy’s religion.

#3 J. (Guest) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 at 3:26pm

“Under this scheme, your taxpayer dollars would reimburse Christian Scientists for praying.” It’s not as bad as you might think because you don’t have to pay for drugs and cost of bibles is included. Seriously, are they actually charging prayer at fee for service?

#4 gray1 on Tuesday October 13, 2009 at 4:22pm

Now there’s a slippery slope if I ever saw one, but actually I have it on good authority that if a healing prayer is done for filthy lucre instead of true love it gains absolutely no respect from any higher powers which renders it totally ineffective.  Spread the word.

#5 Pau (Guest) on Wednesday October 14, 2009 at 2:22am

Why only the Christian Scientist sect? Why not pay for any other believer in shamanism, vudu, or dancing around a fire or pole?. I myself truly believe that a good shot of Scotch relieves many aches, and should have the government pay for my shot.

#6 gray1 on Wednesday October 14, 2009 at 6:39am

Straight Bourbon Whiskey equates to the “high religion” of the Bible belt and therefore should rightly be the only devine medicinal drink recognized by the U.S. Government.  Besides, Scotch makers for the most part utilize used Bourbon barrels, so they must recognize what’s best, where angels tread (and take their share). Straight Bourbon must use only new oak barrels by law, so there, proof enough!  (As I said, it is a slippery slope this idea, but heck, we are governed by special interests anyway, so get yours now.)

#7 Pau (Guest) on Wednesday October 14, 2009 at 11:01am

OK. I’ll settle for Bourbon.

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