Will health care reform have a 'prayer'? Let's hope not.

Faith Healer Cat
Source of image: http://linkhead.wordpress.com/2007/01/

Believers in faith healing could be exempted from mandates, and faith healers could be paid with federal funds, if health care reform provisions under consideration are adopted by Congress. A petition has been launched to ask Congress not to sneak this public funding and endorsement of religion into the final health care package.

I've read several articles about this, but this one from the St. Petersburg Times brings up several important issues.
  • Some versions of the health care reform bill would allow believers to opt out of insurance mandates for religious reasons. You can be for or against mandated insurance (it's hard to tell which Obama is!), but allowing people to say that they don't want coverage because of their religious beliefs seems like an unfair exception. So you can opt out, as long as you say you believe in a God who's against modern medicine? There would be exceptions for people below a certain income level as well, but both believers and non-believers can be poor. If you're a non-believer and not poor enough, I guess you're stuck in the system. Maybe it's a ploy to get more people to reconsider becoming religious!
  • Parents who opt out of health care could also opt their children out of life-saving health care procedures, too. The government would be in effect sanctioning parents from withholding health care on religious grounds. This would likely lead to even more deaths of children whose parents refuse to get them proper medical treatment and just want to pray over them instead.
  • Providers of faith healing, including Christian Scientists, could now be reimbursed for not providing medical services and instead praying to God to heal people. American Atheists spokespeson David Silverman is quoted in the article as saying "Faith healers are not practicing real medicine [...] The health care crisis is a very real problem, and we do not need the federal government coming in and saying that witch doctors or prayer is a real solution to a medical problem"
With so many options still under consideration, it's hard to know what will make it into the final reform, if any reform even passes. But it is alarming that people elected to Congress think it is not only legal, but a good idea for the government to promote people shunning medecine for faith healthers, to consider paying religious organizations for trying to pray away an illness, and to exempt people from requirements everyone else has to follow just for religious reasons.

If you don't want Congress to support faith healing, you may want to consider signing this petition or contacting your Congressmen and women so they know that not everyone thinks that faith healing is the solution to America's health care ills.

Thanks to Johnny from Think Atheist for mentioning the petition.

Originally posted on http://iamtheblog.com.

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Comment by IAmTheBlog on October 25, 2009 at 11:43am
I had heard about this, but didn't know it was still being considered. So basically, I don't think it's overstating thing to say that some lawmakers are apparently willing to let religion equal or trump medicine on every front.

* A patient's religion trumps medicine when it comes to an adult's inclusion in the system
* A patient's religion is equal to medicine when it comes to patient choice of a doctor (they may chose faith healers or doctors)
* A parent's religion trumps medicine when it comes to the right of children to get health care
* A doctor's religion trumps medicine when it comes to what medicine a patient is given
* A doctor's religion trumps medicine when it comes to what procedures doctors will do

Let's hope reform doesn't actually go through like this, otherwise it should be renamed the "Infusion of Religion into All Treatment and Enrollment" (IRATE) Act.
Comment by Michelle on October 25, 2009 at 12:04am
Don't forget what health care professionals may be able to opt out of doing. This is from the IL senator.
Abortion: None of the reform proposals being considered would mandate coverage of abortions. Both the House and Senate versions have a “conscious protection” clause, which allows doctors the right to refuse to perform an abortion, if doing so conflicts with their values.
If the job conflicts with her values, she chose the wrong profession (assuming it is an appropriate procedure, not conflicts because it harms patients). Don't patients' have rights? There is still a big problem with women getting the birth control they want because a hospital or doctor or nurse or whoever feels it's his right to decide for her. Not on a health basis, but because they don't believe in it or agree with it. This is more prevalent with single women, from my experience.



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