The Washington Post reports that Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is pushing hard to get a provision included that would mandate insurance coverage for remote faith healing. Dial-a-prayer hotlines to which people make calls and (for a fee, of course) arrange for distant intercessory prayers to heal the sick would be reimbursed for this “spiritual health care” to the tune of $20-$40 a faith healing session.
Never mind that in actual scientific trials of distant intercessory prayer, those who received the faith healing “treatments” fared no better than those in a control group who received no such “treatment.” Senator Hatch is working hard to protect coverage for healing practices that don’t actually work, justifying the inclusion of this coverage to “ensure that health-care reform law does not discriminate against any religion.”
Well, hey now. Orrin Hatch would radically expand the purpose of health care insurance to ensuring that, no matter what actually works, any religion’s idea of health care practices will get paid for. This flies in the face of the practice of evidence-based medicine, but what the hey: there’s real opportunity here. Free peyote for everyone! We wouldn’t want to discriminate against any religion, would we? Not unless we want the government to pick and choose which groups’ bogus faith-healing is legitimate and which groups’ bogus faith healing isn’t religiously correct. I mean, that would violate the First Amendment ban on government establishment of religion.
I’ve got a religion in mind: Pastafarianism. If I profess belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, can I get reimbursed for eating pasta? You see, I have received assurance from on high that his Noodly Appendages will rid me of tumors, at least when accompanied with a nice Marinara sauce. When I eat spaghetti with alfredo sauce, my heart disease is cured. Spaghetti with pesto relieves all nervous maladies, because my Pastafarian religion says so. It does because I say it does, and I don’t need to prove it to you — not if Orrin Hatch gets his way, and not if we’re really not going to discriminate against any religion in covering faith healing.
I look forward to receiving my monthly reimbursement checks for trips to the Olive Garden. And at home, free jars of Newman’s Own Arrabiata! Yummy yum yum. Oops, I mean “Amen.”