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Measure Includes Prayer Healing in Health Reform

The Los Angeles Times reports that a little-noticed measure in the health care overhaul bill would require insurers to cover Christian Science prayer sessions as a medical expense. 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, according to the L.A. Times.

Reporters Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger write:

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."

It would have a minor effect on the overall cost of the bill — Christian Science is a small church, and the prayer treatments can cost as little as $20 a day. But it has nevertheless stirred an intense controversy over the constitutional separation of church and state, and the possibility that other churches might seek reimbursements for so-called spiritual healing.

This program aired on November 3, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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