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Praying for healing, lobbying for a provision in health reform

Washington Post, November 23, 2009

Leaders of the Church of Christ, Scientist, are pushing a proposal that would help patients pay a spiritual healthcare specialist for prayer by having insurers reimburse the $20 to $40 cost. The provision was stripped from the bill the House passed this month, and church leaders are trying to get it inserted into the Senate version. And the church has powerful allies there, including Sens. John F. Kerry (D-MA), who represents the state where the church is based, and Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), who said the provision would "ensure that healthcare reform law does not discriminate against any religion." But opponents of spiritual care coverage—a coalition of separation-of-church-and-state advocates, pediatricians, and children's health activists—say such a provision would waste money, endanger lives, and, in some cases, amount to government-funded prayer.