Monday, November 23, 2009
Insurance Reimbursement for Prayers
The calls come in at all hours: patients reporting broken bones, violent coughs, deep depression.
Prue Lewis listens as they explain their symptoms. Then Lewis -- a thin, frail-looking woman from Columbia Heights -- simply says, "I'll go to work right away." She hangs up, organizes her thoughts and begins treating her clients' ailments the best way she knows how: She prays.
This is health care in the world of Christian Science, where the sick eschew conventional medicine and turn to God for healing. Christian Scientists call it "spiritual health care," and it is a practice they are battling to insert into the health-care legislation being hammered out in Congress.
Leaders of the Church of Christ, Scientist, are pushing a proposal that would help patients pay someone like Lewis for prayer by having insurers reimburse the $20 to $40 cost.
The provision was stripped from the bill the House passed this month, and church leaders are trying to get it inserted into the Senate version. And the church has powerful allies there, including Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who represents the state where the church is based, and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who said the provision would "ensure that health-care reform law does not discriminate against any religion."
A friend commented:
- Hey, why stop at christian healers, bring on the faith healers of all stripes. I see new industries popping up. Call your favorite faith-healer in Bangalore. There is a very large constituency of remote healers in the land of the snake charmers. These guys claim to have magical powers of remote diagnosis and cure. Hook up Pir Sahib or Baba Love to a VOIP and just watch them shake that money tree.