Senate Health Care Bills Promote Faith Healing

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has just sent out an email alerting members that both of the health care bills in the Senate contain a capitulation to the Christian Science lobby that allows, in fact requires that health insurers reimburse claims for “religious or spiritual health care.”  The blatantly unconstitutional language is buried in amendments (below the fold) to both of the bills currently in the Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee is currently debating Senator Baucus’ America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009. The Kerry-Hatch amendment C-14 titled “Religious Non-discrimination in Health Care” to the Baucus bill prohibits insurers from denying “benefits for religious or spiritual health care” if the “religious or spiritual health care” is “an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.”

Senate Bill 1679, known as the Affordable Health Choices Act, which has already passed the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, includes Section 3103 (a)(1)(D). It requires insurers to reimburse for “religious or spiritual health care” that is “an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.”

For several decades the Internal Revenue Service has allowed bills sent by Christian Science practitioners for their prayers to be a tax-deductible medical care expense. This is bizarre, but certainly does not prove that Christian Science prayer heals disease. To our knowledge Christian Science prayer is the only prayer that the IRS allows to be deducted as a medical expense.

Christian Science church founder Mary Baker Eddy told the spiritual healers to “make their charges for treatment equal to those of reputable physicians in their respective localities” (First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 237). These treatments consist only of prayer. In 1989, Christian Science healer Mario Tosto charged parents $446 for two days of prayer-treatment for an 11-year-old Minnesota boy with diabetes. The boy, of course, died.

The measures in the U.S. Senate health care bills have the government not only allowing payments to unlicensed providers, but requiring them. Moreover, the government is requiring insurers to pay bills sent by one church’s faith healers. And finally, these measures will bolster the Christian Science church’s argument that its prayer “treatments” are and should be a legal substitute for medical care of sick children. This degree of capitulation to one particular lobby is indefensible.

And now the text of the amendments:

America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009, Senate Finance Committee, Title I, Subtitle B, Kerry/Hatch Amendment C-14, “Religious Non-Discrimination in Health Care,” September 22, 2009

“Description of Amendment: There shall be a requirement that there be non-discrimination in health care in a manner that, with respect to an individual who is eligible for medical or surgical care under a qualified health plan offered through a State Exchange, prohibits the Administrator of the State Exchange, or a qualified health plan offered through a State Exchange, from denying such individual benefits for religious or spiritual health care, except that such religious or spiritual health care shall be an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.”

Affordable Health Choices Act, S. 1679, Sec. 3103(a)(1)(D), September 17, 2009 (The Health, Education committee bill).

“The essential benefits provided for in subparagraph (A) shall include a requirement that there be non-discrimination in health care in a manner that, with respect to an individual who is eligible for medical or surgical care under a qualified health plan offered through a Gateway, prohibits the Administrator of the Gateway, or a qualified health plan offered through the Gateway, from denying such individual benefits for religious or spiritual health care, except that such religious or spiritual health care shall be an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.”

What is really irratating to me about this kind of thing is that the  Congress of the United States will cater to any organization that has the wherewithal to get in their face with lobbiests and big-time budgets, when there are more atheists in the US then Mormans, Jews or Christian Scientists combined.  Until we learn to play like they do, we will just not get the consideration we are due as the largest and fastest growing minority in the country.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Senate Health Care Bills Promote Faith Healing

  1. Steve Schachlin

    With due respect to the author’s right to his opinion, as a Christian Scientist myself, I thought a response was warranted to clear up an obvious misperception by the author about the nature of Christian Science. There is no official entity called the “Christian Science Lobby”, but rather there are citizens like myself who, like any concerned citizen, have alerted our representatives that we have experienced what many would consider miraculous healings through prayer in the way taught by Christ Jesus. Over 100 years of such healings are documented in The Christian Science Journal, and The Christian Science Sentinel, and are a testament to its efficacy.

    The author’s quote above that “these treatments consist only of prayer” demonstrates a clear, yet common, misperception about the nature of effective and scientific prayer as opposed to blind faith, which is the well-meaning yet foundationless begging for healing from a good and evil God, who seems rarely to intercede.

    I myself have been healed with Christian Healing from a gunshot wound, measels, colds, accidents, a poisonous animal bite and more. Growing up, my parents were often asked, how is it that your child is rarely sick? Christian Science is not just some denomination, it is the truth for all mankind that can be learned by anyone interested. It is simply the science of Christianity, or the fact that Christianity as taught by Jesus was based on divine Law. Jesus’ treatments too consisted “only of prayer” to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons or insanity. He said “go and do thou likewise”…and “greater works than these shall ye do”. He intended his teachings to be heard, and practiced by generations to come.

    Therefore, it is not unreasonable that the thousands of Christian Science students around the world should pay into an insurance system from which they can never reap any benefit whatsoever did it exclude christian healing. Certainly, our country should not exclude spiritual healing care for anyone (not just those calling themselves Christian Scientists) that so choose.

    • There are a couple of ways of looking at this. To start, let’s give this legislation the Lemon test:

      1. Does the legislation have a secular purpose? Absolutely not!

      2. Does the legislation have the primary effect of inhibiting or advancing religion? Yes! It not only advances religion, it advances one religion over others.

      3. Does the legislation result in “excessive government entanglement with religion?” Probably, as it creates a “special case.”

      Well, that’s two out of three for sure, and only one is needed to declare the legislation unconstitutional. No federal court at any level would allow these amendments to stand, and, trust me, there WILL be lawsuits.

      Your excuse that you shouldn’t pay into a system you will never use is ludicrous! Not only do members of your cult use the health care system when it seems appropriate, there are lots of government programs that many of us pay into for years and never use, starting with childless couples paying for public education.

      To look at it another way, there are many atheists who feel that non-believers should coddle the religious, working with so-called “liberal” christians on educational and other matters that effect our communities. I’m not one of them! I see no reason or advantage in coddling or respecting delusion in any form, and of the 38,000 different sects of christianity, yours is easily one of the most abhorrent to me. How many of your children does your cult have to kill before it is outlawed, as it should be?

      Mary Baker Eddy was a huckster, very much in the mold of Joseph Smith, and if there was anything of value in the “religion” you practice, your methods and procedures would be validated by real science, instead of leading many of your members into troubles with the law.

      The temperature is already starting to rise on the Senators, and my guess is that the amendments will be stripped from the final bill. If not, they will fail in courts of law.

  2. True, there are comedians that cuss a lot, but you got to
    earn that right before you do that. For more information on
    my Workshops, Writing Mastermind Groups and private coaching,
    please go to my website listed below and feel free to call
    me any time. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take
    a magic pill and have a perfect relationship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s