Prayer is Not Medical Care [UPDATED AGAIN]

HR 3200 - Prayer is Not Medical Care

Tucked into the health care reform bill passed by Sen. Harkin’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee is a mandate that insurers reimburse for “religious or spiritual health care” that is classified as a deductible medical care expense by the Internal Revenue Service. See S.1679, Section 3103(a)(1)(D). The House Energy and Commerce Committee on which Congressman Bruce Braley sits has added a similar measure to the House health care reform bill. See Section 125 of HR3200. If the federal government forces the insurance industry to pay for prayer, the Christian Science church and other faith healing practitioners will use the federal law as another argument that Christian Science “treatment” or prayer should be a legal substitute for medical care of sick children. Between 1 and 5 children currently die in the United States, per month, from religiously-motivated medical neglect. If the Congress passes into law these provisions equating prayer with medical care, this number will surely increase.
There will be more laws like West Virginia’s religious defense to fatal neglect of a child when parents withhold medical care and instead rely on prayer-treatment “if fees and expenses incurred in connection with such treatment are permitted to be deducted from taxable income as ‘medical expenses’ pursuant to regulations or rules promulgated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. (West Virginia Code 61-8D-4a(b)).

Iowa’s religious defense to felony child endangerment and manslaughter at Iowa Code 726.6(d) has been justified on similar grounds.

The government should not be forcing anyone to pay for prayer. We urge Congress to remove all provisions in the health care reform bills that require insurers to reimburse for prayer or any other “health care” that is not evidence-based.

Click here to sign and send. We all know that online petitions don't work, but don't be put off by the first page; the first page is a petition and once you continue you will get the option to send the letter to your congressman.

Let's jump on this folks, no matter where you stand on the health care issue, you can't deny that reform is needed; but most of all we can all agree we don't want prayer allowances in the health care bill.

UPDATE

"[T]he House of Representatives has decided to remove language found in all three draft bills that would require private and public plans to cover the spiritual care of individuals with religious objections to medical care."

Today the House released their version of the health care reform bill that did not include language requiring private and public health plans to cover spiritual care for any person. This "spiritual care" includes reimbursements for payments that Christian Scientists make to members of the Church who pray for them when they are ill.

“Requiring American taxpayers to reimburse Christian Scientists and other religious sects that deny themselves and their children necessary medical care would have been incredibly unethical in addition to a violation of church state separation, said Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition. “I am thrilled that the House of Representatives has chosen to remove language that would have required Americans to foot the bill for religion-based care. Their actions demonstrate that common sense secular values are being heard in the halls of Congress.”

If this language had been included, tax payers would be forced to help foot the bill for this religion-based “care” – “care” offering no scientific evidence of effectiveness. "Care" which, in fact, endangers lives by placing government approval on non-scientific practices.

UPDATED AGAIN


Posted October 30 on FFRF, a quote from Rita Swan:
"The mandate to reimburse religious and spiritual health care has been removed from the House bill, HR3962, the merged bill that is going to the floor. We are thrilled! Thank you for your letters and calls to Congresspersons. We will definitely thank FFRF in our next newsletter for your hard work on this.

We still have to win in the Senate, but I have a good feeling that momentum is on our side. Of course, this prayer-fee mandate was such an extremely ridiculous idea in the first place. Surely it is unconstitutional for the government to force payment for prayer."
The FFRF post continues, advising that the bill still has to go through the Senate.

So contact your senator!

FFRF has this text you can paste into an email:
Please oppose the unwise and unconstitutional Section 3103(a)(1)(D), “Program Design,” of Affordable Health Choices Act, Senate Bill 1679, which requires insurers to reimburse for so-called "religious or spiritual health care" (prayer as a substitute for medical evaluation and treatment). Congress should not condone prayer as a substitute for medical evaluation and treatment, much less require its subsidy for one religious sect! Children of Christian Scientists, who could have been saved by medicine, have died because their parents relied on "faith healers." These irresponsible religious sects teach that it is a sin to take an ill or dying child to a medical doctor. It is a "sin" not to get medical care in such circumstances. Congress must not encourage medical maltreatment of dependent children and the government should not be forcing taxpayers or insurance companies to pay for prayer and other religious rituals. Please remove this irresponsible mandate from S. 1679, and from future health care reform bills.

Views: 103

Comment by Aric on October 24, 2009 at 5:41pm
I'm the second person from GA.
Comment by Shawna on October 25, 2009 at 6:00am
Signed and sent.
Comment by Galen on October 25, 2009 at 8:15am
3rd person from GA and all 3 came from here; I'm not surprised. I'm not sure about the other two I e-mailed, but I know that writing Saxby Chambliss does fuck-all. I once e-mailed him via the ACLU about Gitmo when it first hit the news and his response was basically that they're the enemy so they don't *have* rights. I've gotten similar responses from him on other issues, so I'm not holding my breath here.
Comment by Kat Lollar on October 25, 2009 at 9:50am
I'm only the second from Illinois. Hopefully lots more letters get sent. I'm totally jazzed about the "take action" section here.
Comment by Reggie on October 26, 2009 at 9:36pm
Hey, my Senator showed me some form letter love!


October 26, 2009 Dear Mr. Hammond,
Thank you for contacting me regarding our health care system. I appreciate your comments and welcome the opportunity to respond.
There is no denying that our health care system is in dire need of reform. The soaring cost of medical care is crippling our economy, bankrupting our nation's families, and becoming an unsustainable financial burden for American employers. In the last eight years, health care premiums have grown four times faster than wages, and there are nearly 46 million uninsured Americans - the majority of whom are employed. It's tragic that in a country of great wealth like ours so many of our fellow Americans don't have access to care; and that the uninsured are suffering from avoidable illnesses and receiving expensive medical care too late, the cost of which gets passed onto the rest of us.
I am pleased to see my colleagues on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee and on the Finance Committee leading the health reform effort in the Senate. There are still many tough issues to resolve in the health care debate, including insurance coverage mandates, whether a public program will compete with private insurers, and how to pay for it. I welcomed the President's speech to Congress which outlined his view of how Congress should resolve the health care reform debate and offered room for compromise and pragmatism. While Congressional committees continue to craft various versions of health care reform bills, the highest priorities for Congress and health industry leaders remain protecting patient choice of care, curbing skyrocketing health costs, and expanding coverage for the uninsured.
Although I am hopeful that significant reform will be enacted by the end of this year, you should know that Congress has already passed several measures that have improved access to care for children and struggling families. In January, I voted for Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2), which will provide 4.1 million additional low-income children with quality health care coverage. I was also pleased that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted in February, included extended unemployment health benefits coverage as well as funds for cost saving health care initiatives like health information technology.
Although there is not a final version of the health reform bill in the Senate or House, I understand that there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation, and, yes, some fear and anger, as well, surrounding certain proposals for reform. You may be interested to know the Special Committee on Aging, of which I am a member, has prepared a document entitled "Health Care Reform, Fact vs. Fiction". I would encourage you to visit the website http://www.aging.senate.gov/issues/healthcare/factvsfiction.pdf to gather factual information regarding some of these rumors. If you are interested in reading the House and Senate bills, you can find the most updated versions of the legislation by visiting www.help.senate.gov and www.energycommerce.house.gov.
Addressing our nation's health care crisis will be no small feat for Congress; but it will only get worse the longer we ignore it. Our nation's long term financial health requires a balance between family coverage needs and viable financing from businesses and the government. The current tenuous situation necessitates action on healthcare reform now. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to find a fiscally responsible solution for the health of Americans and our nation's economy, and I am hopeful that we will have significant reform enacted by the end of this year.
Sincerely,

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at www.mccaskill.senate.gov.
Comment by Reggie on October 26, 2009 at 9:38pm
Hmm....seems there was no form letter for secularists.
Comment by Stefftastic on October 27, 2009 at 4:08am
This is sick (yeah, pun intended, ha ha.)
I don't have a million friends, but that would come in handy today. I tweeted the link, but that'll only raise the number of Washington signatures from ten to maybe fifteen.
Comment by Johnny on October 29, 2009 at 5:25pm
UPDATE

"[T]he House of Representatives has decided to remove language found in all three draft bills that would require private and public plans to cover the spiritual care of individuals with religious objections to medical care."

Today the House released their version of the health care reform bill that did not include language requiring private and public health plans to cover spiritual care for any person. This "spiritual care" includes reimbursements for payments that Christian Scientists make to members of the Church who pray for them when they are ill.

“Requiring American taxpayers to reimburse Christian Scientists and other religious sects that deny themselves and their children necessary medical care would have been incredibly unethical in addition to a violation of church state separation, said Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition. “I am thrilled that the House of Representatives has chosen to remove language that would have required Americans to foot the bill for religion-based care. Their actions demonstrate that common sense secular values are being heard in the halls of Congress.”

If this language had been included, tax payers would be forced to help foot the bill for this religion-based “care” – “care” offering no scientific evidence of effectiveness. "Care" which, in fact, endangers lives by placing government approval on non-scientific practices.
Comment by Morgan Matthew on October 29, 2009 at 5:55pm
NICE!
Comment by Ashli Axtell on October 29, 2009 at 6:15pm
That is awesome!

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