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This is so unconstitutional. A provision was added to the Senate Obamacare package, the effect of which would be to have the government in a public plan pay for Christian Science practitioners to provide prayer treatments to patients and/or prohibit private plans from refusing to treat such prayer sessions as a medical treatment. From the story :

Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist. The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

If this story has it right, what is proposed isn’t the same thing at all as paying, say, a Catholic hospital to provide medical treatment. Surgery or ICU are medical treatments, whether or not they occur in a religiously oriented facility. Prayer treatments are religion.

Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against Christian Science or Religious Science, which also has prayer practitioners. Indeed, I have a friend who swears he was cured of asthma as a child by a Religious Science practitioner. But there is no way that the government should pay directly for a religious practice. Indeed, can you imagine the screaming if the law required a private insurance company or the government to pay the Catholic Church when a priest annointed an ill person with oil as a healing Sacrament?  How is this any different?

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