KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Prayer Treatments Covered In Health Care Reform Bills

Prayer treatments may get a boost in health care legislation, raising debate about what constitutes healing and the separation of church and state. The Los Angeles Times reports: "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.' ... (it has) 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" (Hamburger and Geiger, 11/3).

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