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nicole473 On October - 30 - 2009


By Orac, Respectful Insolence

Not long ago, I wrote a post warning about how funding for non-science-based modalities and, indeed, modalities that are purely religion-based, have found their way into various versions of health care reform bills that are currently wending their way through both houses of Congress. In other words, purveyors of faith healing and purely religious woo are trying to do what purveyors of “alternative” medicine have already done through Senator Tom Harkin, and hijack the health care reform process to codify their preferred unscientific health care modalities as legitimate after science has rejected them.

Now, the Center for Inquiry has launched a campaign to inform and educate our legislators. You can participate by using its talking points (or paraphrasing them or voicing your own objections) to protest:

Congress is considering health care legislation that would in part mandate coverage of non-evidenced based medical treatments such as prayer and therapeutic touch. This would raise the cost of health care for all Americans and represent a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.

CFI continues:

The Center for Inquiry asks you to contact your Senators and Representative to voice your strong opposition to the proposal in the Heath Care bills that would mandate coverage of non evidence-based “alternative” medical treatments including spiritual and prayer based healing under the guise of nondiscrimination.Talking Points

  • America needs a health care system that focuses on increasing the health of individuals and reducing the cost of coverage.
  • This type of health care system is not possible if insurers are required to pay for medical treatments with questionable at best results.
  • If Congress requires that insurers cover alternative treatments such as Christian Science prayer, therapeutic touch, or other non-evidence based medical procedures, the cost of health care for all Americans will go up. This runs counter to the goal that Congress has laid out: to make health care more affordable for all Americans. – If the final version of health care reform includes a public option, this mandate would also force the public insurance plan to cover these treatments. Because the public option is federally funded, the inclusion of the mandate would represent an egregious violation of the principle of separation of church and state.

I agree. It’s time to try to stop the insertion of faith-based quackery like Christian Science “prayer” treatments as reimbursable medical expenses in whatever health care reform bill(s) is/are passed by Congress. You can help by going here and writing to your Congressional representatives and Senators.



43 Responses so far.

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  1. Athena says:

    I understand that we are over treated, over tested and over operated on by our current medical establishment, but I am continually dismayed by the “alternative medical crowd” who think that herbal remedies and homeopathic pseudoscience are valid. Why are so many opting out of vaccinating their children? The anti-medical establishment/pharmaceutical crowd is allowing themselves to be manipulated by the alternative medicine crowd! Who started this false idea that autism is caused by vaccines? No one ever said that vaccines had no risk, but come on people, driving your children around in cars has a much higher risk of harming the children than vaccines, and look at the immense benefit they offer.

  2. choicelady says:

    I’ll take the other side here -- who cares? If you rule out Christian Science, then you have to rule out acupuncture and other traditional healing that have yet to be “scientifically” proven. The mind-body connection is pretty much unknown. It offends me not at all to have those incorporated. In CA the single payer bill still moving (hoping for the Kucinich Amendment to revive itself please!) incorporates traditional medicine including Christian Science. Since this is NOT paid for by your tax dollars -- everyone in even the public plan will pay something -- then it’s no skin off anyone else’s nose. Your choices do NOT impact me. The Capps’ Amendment did the same around abortion -- every plan will have to have a choice of coverage, and women choosing reproductive rights coverage will pay for it with her own money. So -- this is not worth getting exercised over. If you do not believe in prayerful healing, don’t have it. If someone else does, let them. That IS choice and honoring our massive differences. Hey -- I refused Lipitor, took Benecol instead, lowered my cholesterol 60 points, and my doctor is FURIOUS because I’m taken over my own life without meds. Not much science, but it works (I’m not alone BTW) So here’s my mantra -- “to each.” Who CARES?

  3. Kalima says:

    The only “faith healing” that I would subscribe to is my own and the strength to fight my own illness. So far it hasn’t exactly been successful, but I have my moments.

    I hate quacks and have met a few who said they could cure me, ha ha. They of course have never set foot in my house but there are some people who are so desperate and in a lot of pain who will try just about anything. The quacks are there like vultures to take advantage and their money. I consider it to be criminal and spit in their general direction.

    • nicole473 says:

      That’s exactly one of the most disgusting things about quackery. They take advantage of desperate people who are looking for any shred of hope.

      It just sickens me.

  4. AdLib says:

    Really appreciate your bringing this up. It’s been flying beneath the radar, I didn’t know what they were up to but my Spidey sense told me they would be up to something sneaky on the bill.

    My remaining questions on injecting religion into the health care bill are:

    1. Will being possessed by demons be considered a pre-existing condition? Are exorcisms covered?

    2. Am I covered if bitten by a snake I’m handling in church?

    3. If I have a laying on of hands, could a happy ending be considered part of the therapy?

    • nicole473 says:


      Pitiful that we even have to discuss this, isn’t it? I always thought that government and religion were supposed to be separated. Huh. Who knew….

      You would enjoy Orac’s blog. He is a scientist who also hates HuffPost, and goes after them based on their extremely bad health and science reporting. He has managed to draw attacks from many who write for AridHead. 🙂

      • AdLib says:

        Cool, sounds like my kind of blog, I definitely want to to check it out.

        It is kind of sad that we have these anchors on progress with as much influence as they have in this country.

        And Americans feel superior to other nations. The only civilized nation without national health care and whose previous president declared God chose him to be president.

        Part of this country is as backwards as Afghanistan.

        • nicole473 says:

          I agree completely.

          A snippet from Orac, re HuffPost:

          “I’ve been complaining about the antivaccine lunacy at The Huffington Post for a very long time--since a mere two or three weeks after The Huffington Post first came into existence, when it had already become apparent that, in terms of health coverage, HuffPo was nothing more than Arianna’s Happy Home for Loony Antivaccinationists. Lately, I’ve become even more disturbed by the appearance of outright quackery, such as recommending colon cleanses and “detox” to fight infectious diseases and the boosting of homeopathy and the quackery that is the Beck Protocol as treatments for swine flu and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Some of us have wondered whether this is because the new “Wellness Editor” of HuffPo is a homeopath and “alternative” practitioner.

          So what to do?”


      • bitohistory says:

        I registered (fron your link, Nicole) yesterday and checked to see if I was at all discussed on the HP thread. You guys went off on some of the the “pains in the ….” that I also have had occasion to “enjoy”.

        So this is my first entry and I do have what might seem to be an easy thing to do. How does one just make a comment? I see how to “reply” but how do I just start a comment? (sometimes I think I still have chemo brain.) Thanks for the link!!

        • nicole473 says:

          Welcome to PlanetPOV, bitohistory!! 🙂

        • AdLib says:

          Hey bitohistory, a Planetary wide welcome to you!

          To make a comment, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the comment form down there.

          To post an article, you can click on the “Click Here To Write A Post Now” box in the right hand column.

          Check out the FAQ, it will get you up to speed on the many features here pretty quick.

          Again, welcome to The Planet!

          • bitohistory says:

            Thanks (taks). I guess, from reading, that you are one of the “gang leaders” of this creation.(?) Were are most people posting, what’s the active site? Is there an “open thread” in the morning? I guess I will find all this out in time. Lordy it is nice to be in civility !

            • AdLib says:

              As Will Rogers said, “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.”

              Generally there can be two or three threads people post on actively but like at most blogs, the most recent threads are usually where you’ll find people.

              I usually check out the Recent Comments section and click on a comment to see where people are posting or look at the number of comments on the threads on the Home Page.

              What’s cool is that people are looking at this site a little differently, like the different threads are just different conversations at the same party and you can float from one to the other as you like.

              And same here, so happy to have so many cool people discussing all kinds of things freely and without troll interruptions.

  5. nicole473 says:

    I am a firm believer in science-based medicine, in part because I have watched as the quacks have tortured a generation of children on behalf of the anti-vax movement, one of the most sickening examples is the use of the drug called Lupron, which essentially chemically castrates them.



    And don’t get me started on the topic of religion……

    I basically believe in “do unto others”, but I have lost all patience for organized religion.

    I certainly don’t see any reason to allow tax dollars to go for “prayer-based healing” or other forms of pure quackery. And, I think those who are pushing this should be called on it based on the lack of constitutionality inherent in the premise.

  6. KQuark says:

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves about the right wing woo woos opposition of healthcare reform. What would Jesus do? I’ll tell you what Jesus would do he would make healthcare free for the masses and let the rich payer for it. Even though European countries are more secular than the US that EXACTLY what they do. Countries like England, France and the Scandinavian countries all heavily tax the rich and people get healthcare for free.

    The fact is in America organized religions are just corporations who get to pay no taxes.

    • choicelady says:

      Love you though I do, KQuark, you’re being thugged by the religious right. I represent the progressive Protestants most ALL of whom support single payer. Why? Because you’re right -- Jesus did support totally free health care for all and made it a mandate BEFORE faith work. A friend of mine noted that pre-existing conditions kinda were his specialty, too… Churches do an amazing amount of health care provision and other acts of both justice and charity. Don’t be brainwashed by the MSM that focuses on the RW churches that never met a poor person they couldn’t rob or grind under their heels. Most Protestant (meaning social justice churches NOT evangelicals) believe their WORK for justice and aid to those in harm’s way is what they are called to do, and that is vastly supported by their tax-exempt status like that of any other non-profit.

    • carolj47au says:

      Here in australia we have a mix of both public and private.

      Here are some comments from an American living here.



    • BigDogMom says:

      Hey KQuark,

      What would Jesus do? He send all their asses packing…If they really ‘read’ the bible, Jesus was the biggest liberal around..

      The lines have blurred between Church and State in this country since Reagan, but good news…the non-christians are gaining in numbers.

      I’m just a little tired of them forcing their values on the rest of us…and putting it into law.

  7. Grabamop says:

    I saw something like this on the news several weeks ago. A new hospital opened in my area and there is a whole section in it dedicated to this fuzzy-wuzzy Oprah based crap. Energy healing, theraputic touch, someone that will come pray for you during surgery…….what an insult to the doctors and nurses and other professionals that have spent years educating themselves in the medical sciences. Heck, I don’t think chiropractic procedures should be covered. And if I offended any Oprah fans out there, my apologies…..I just think some of the specious quackery she has had on her show the several years is down right dangerous.

    • choicelady says:

      I never have been, but even surgeons are now saying you should investigate chiropractic FIRST before surgery on your back. Holistic touching and massage are HUGE helps in alleviating pain. There is no suggestion that they cure diseases but that they use the natural need for human touch and soothing to alleviate distress, tension, pain. We live in a world of such stress that they are very useful media for helping us turn down the pain and muscle tension that contribute mightily to being MORE sick than one needs to be. We know herbal remedies do a lot that “western” meds cannot or do so with many fewer side effects. There is a place for it all. The big problem -- sorting out the good from the quackery! I do agree that, ironically, HuffPo is promoting public option health care AND pushing for-profit “alternative medicine” at the same time. Look I took some of the free advice -- I’ve been massively harmed by being given an antibiotic I did not need -- and after years of needless pain, I’ve radically changed my diet which has helped me SO much. But I’m not paying for anyone’s off the web $29.95 a month -- who KNOW what. I resent Arianna’s touting of affordable health care on one hand and slipping us the mickey on the other. She is not reliable, and HuffPo has yet to do anything about this (and my comment about that got excised -- surprise!) But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. There is some good stuff out there that lies outside the parameters of western medicine -- it’s worth the time to read up and find out what works. And to read up and find out what does NOT work! Oprah is NOT my doc!

    • KQuark says:

      The only part of holistic type medicines I believe in are the preventative types that include mostly essential vitamin and mineral therapy so that certain chronic conditions don’t get worse. I know when I went through chemo for Hodgkin’s Disease that my daily supplements helped me tremendously. I actually kept all most of my hair even though I was getting the maximum dose of chemo and had radiation to boot. My hematologist thought it was nonsense to take supplements but I knew better in this case. Main stream medicine does not embrace prevention because it does not make them enough money.

      • FeloniousMonk says:

        Most main stream medicine doesn’t understand pharmacology or diet, either. Oh, yeah, you need to diet. Hey, there’s a new pill out, try it, you’ll like it. Of course, does it have any conflicts with your current medications? No worry, the pharmacist will tell you and if it does, have them call us. What, you’re not exercising? You can walk more, oh, you have a bad ankle, well….

        I have a good doctor, around 40. But she is still limited by her environment, which includes the time dictates placed on her by the insurance companies and management.

        There’s a lot to be said for a healthy lifestyle, but it certainly doesn’t prevent everything, but will often make recovering easier.

        • KQuark says:

          Wow you hit the nail on the head. I am a personal victim of bad pharmacology. One of the chemo drugs I took damaged my heart muscle severely and now I’m in chronic heart failure because of it.

          Fortunately they have new protocols for the drug including a drug that added to the chemotherapy to mitigate the negative effects but looking back on my case they did everything wrong like pretty much injecting the concentrated drug directly to the vein leading to my heart instead of feeding it diluted through a peripheral vein through IV.

          Thanks to this bad batch of of alchemy the medical profession practiced I was literally hours away from death two times.

          • BigDogMom says:

            How do you feel now? Hope your doing better….

            • KQuark says:

              I have good days and bad days like any chronic disease but I’ve proved the doctors wrong so far and am almost three years past the expiration date they gave me.

            • nicole473 says:

              KQ, I am happy to hear that you are doing somewhat well, and saddened to hear that you are ill.
              Will be sending lots of positive thoughts your way, my friend. {{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}

        • BigDogMom says:

          Hey Monk..I’m a big believer and user of acupunture and massage…both are covered under most insurance policies…for me they work…not a big pill popper, always forget to take them…even my vitamins…

  8. SueInCa says:

    This is the amendment in the bill sponsored by Orrin Hatch and John Kerry?, a bit surprised at that one. There was an article in the Washington Post, reposted on this blog for the Secular Coalition for America. I knew I had seen it.

    Health Funding for Science, Not Faith

    The Secular Coalition for America takes no position on the Baucus Health Care Bill itself, but we are working to defeat three proposed amendments that would alter public policy to privilege religious people.

    First is the bipartisan amendment sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Kerry (D-Mass.). Under current law, religious people who object to medical care may have some “spiritual care” covered by Medicare and Medicaid, including reimbursement for payments that Christian Scientists make to members of the Church who pray for them when they are ill. Numerous children have died while receiving this “spiritual care,” when modern science could easily have saved their lives. The Hatch-Kerry Amendment would make a bad situation even worse. It would expand such practices and require all private and public health plans to cover “spiritual care,” whether or not the individual has religious objections to medical care. Not only does such funding undermine our Constitution, it more easily puts your tax dollars into the waiting hands of scam artists. Taxpayers would pay for this religion-based care, for which there is no scientific evidence of effectiveness. Even worse, placing the government stamp of approval on non-scientific practices such as “spiritual care” would place many more lives at risk.

    • choicelady says:

      Spirtually-based health is for adults only. Most Christian Science practice does not deny children western medicine. Only real fanatics do that, and the courts have ruled against them time and again -- you have to provide minors with science-based care. Period. Funding such care does NOT undermine the Constitution because you are NOT funding it -- the individual is, just as with abortion rights.

      Move on. This is about human choices not about you. You are not paying, so get over it. The Public Option is NOT welfare. It’s like Medicare for which each individual pays for his or her choices. What’s it to you?

  9. Questinia says:

    Wow! Thanks for this Nicole 473.

    I can just imagine how the preferred treatment for insurance companies would be prayer… no preauthorization required!

    Depending on what they mean by therapeutic touch, it could be valuable. Too few people are actually touched in a healing way in this world.

    Welcome to Arabia, circa 1100, or whenever it was they eschewed science for religious orthodoxy.

  10. SueInCa says:

    I believe this amendment may have been born out of a submission from Orrin Hatch. I was reading the amendments the pubs submitted for the healthcare bill and he had something in there about spiritual medicine. If I can find it again, I will post it here. It sounded to me like over the top religious belief and mixing church and state seemed a bit too cozy for me.

  11. kesmarn says:

    So…they want prayers to be covered? As in, “Pay me or I won’t pray”?
    Wow… If this comes from the religious right, I have to wonder…well, many things. But most of all, how can they call themselves Repubs. I mean--wanting government reimbursement for praying??

    • Questinia says:

      Who are the people who are supposed to be praying? Doctors? I can just imagine “That’ll be three hail Mary’s and $250”

      OK, that’s not technically a prayer, but it’s close and no one would ever know.

    • SueInCa says:

      Actually it is a bit more than that. It seems there was a Time article in 2002 about Utah and their “vitamin” industries and a bill passed in Congress. Still trying to find the Hatch amendment…….. This is an excerpt from the article:

      Investigations aside, why can’t the Federal Government simply step in to aid consumers who are wasting billions of dollars a year on “remedies” that are ineffective at best, and occasionally harmful? The answer lies in the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which was passed by Congress after extensive lobbying by the health food industry. Its passage was eased by the strong support of such medically illiterate politicians as Senator Tom Harkin (who believes in the healing powers of bee pollen), Senator Orrin Hatch (whose state of Utah is a hub for herbal manufacturers) and Representative Dan Burton (the most rabid Congressional opponent of vaccination). The act allows natural supplements to be marketed without any proof of their purity, safety or efficacy. Producers of these supplements are largely exempt from regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, which can take action against them only if they make claims about their products curing or alleviating disease

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      I wonder if those “prayers for national healing” could get counted as free donations and I could get a tax write-off for them? Can’t wait to see the IRS valuation definition on prayers. Is it going to be length based, or what?

      You got to love these people. Geez.

      • kesmarn says:

        Maybe there’s a way to measure prayer intensity as well as length to determine what is re-imbursable. I’ve noticed that some people crunch up their faces, pucker their foreheads and even manage to squeeze out a tear or two to signal sincerity. Surely that ought to count for more than a casual “gesundheit” in response to a sneeze?

        BTW, I actually am a praying person, although you wouldn’t always be able to detect that when I engage a troll. Mea culpa, mea culpa…

        • FeloniousMonk says:

          Kes, I’m a spiritual Christian. God save us from the religious Christians. I believe in prayer, but first as a way of thanking God, not asking for things. I recognize the fallability of all religion and those who push it for their own means and ends. But at the end of the day, I believe that if there is a judgement, it will be based on how we have been as human beings to others and to the world, not that only through Jesus we are saved.

          That said, most people figure either I’m a religious nut, when I chose to play one for effect, or a ragin’ pagan, for the same reasons. It’s a personal thing.

          • kesmarn says:

            To both Monk and BDMom, It’s a relief to connect with other Libs who are spiritual without being fundie. I feel for Christians who are tarred with the fundie brush, as well as Muslims who are assumed to be Al-Qaeda supporters, Jews who are stereotyped in many ways,etc. Every religion has its run-off-the-rails element. But it helps, too, to remember all the schools, hospitals, housing programs, prison ministries,et al, that religious people have added to our lives as humans on this planet over the centuries. Okay, I’m off the soap-box for the day!

          • BigDogMom says:

            I’m a spiritual/non-religious person which confuses the heck out of those that are religious, the church going, bible thumping/quoting type.

            They just can’t understand that you can pray and believe in God without all the other man-made stuff…my Mother’s southern fundementalist family for an example…

  12. KevenSeven says:

    Religion: Certainty without proof.

    Science: Proof without certainty.

    • Grabamop says:

      K7 that was possibly one of the best quotes I have seen in a long time. Did you know you can add a avatar by going to the web site Gravatar? I miss seeing Winston with your posts. He is one of my heros.

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