Christian Science prayer should not be a part of health reform

Hidden in the Senate version of health reform is wording that would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments.

Although not expected to be a big expense, this is causing some consternation, as it blurs the line between church and state. And this would likely invite other religious groups to organize, so they can receive federal dollars as well.

Introduced by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), it is somewhat odd that it’s also supported by Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, where the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist resides.

It’s odd because there’s little data that I know off showing that any type of prayer is grounded in rigorous evidence. And when progressives purportedly support initiatives like comparative effectiveness data and evidenced-based clinical practice, it’s curious that something like this slipped in.

In a prescient post, Val Jones noted last year that proponents of prayer therapy want “billing codes and payment processes to support alternative medicine practice,” and believe that “health insurance companies and our tax payer dollars should fully support any medical treatment proposed by a ‘practitioner’ whose treatments have a historical basis and some evidence of a [presumably placebo] effect.”

They may be getting their wish.

These generally leftward-leaning sham therapy advocates, along with the anti-science crusaders on the far right, unite to be significant impediments to President Obama’s goal of restoring science to its rightful place.

And to accomplish the President’s goal, Dr. Val says, “the first place to start is [to keep] quackery out of the health care reform bills.”