Health

Jesus' Love Is Like Bad Medicine

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Memo to John Shimkus, John Kerry, and Orrin Hatch: YOU ARE DUMB.

Ah, health care reform. Is there any aspect of stupidity, any angle on inanity, that it will not cover before it's signed into law? With thousands and thousands of pages of legislation between various House and Senate bills, and with thousands and thousands of hours of punditry covering it from every angle, the Great Health Care Debate of 2009 could be the Rosetta of ridiculousness. I fully expect that at least one of the bills contains Roland Emmerich's complete shooting script for "2012", just for the sake of completeness.

For example, here's something you may not have known There is a debate taking place, and a lobbying effort underway, over whether insurance companies should be required, or even encouraged, to cover prayer.

I know what you're thinking, because I had the same experience when I first learned this. You are wondering of "Prayer" is a typo for aspirin. No, it's not. You're wondering if Prayer is the generic name for Lipitor. Again, no. And don't bother searching online to see if maybe it's the name of a medical clinic or a doctor. I tried that. No, this is straight-up, no-holds-barred, drop on your knees and beg your deity to make someone better prayer.

So here's how it would work. You love Jesus, and you get sick. You get your local priest to spend a couple of hours exalting the Savior's name and asking nicely of Old Bloodyhands or his dad might vanquish the swine flu from your bloodstream. Your pastor then submits a bill for those two hours at the going rate, whatever the fuck THAT is, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield sends him a check, because the government has asked nicely that "spiritual care" not be discriminated against. And then my brain explodes, and my insurance company decides that professions of atheism are a pre-existing condition, and I have to walk around all day long with an exploded brain.

This measure is being promoted by the Christian Scientists, who gathered up 11,000 letters from their members, and then gingerly stepped over all the corpses of untreated children that litter the ground around them to deliver those letters to Congress. And they're being aided and abetted by John Shimkus (R-Ill)*, who thinks prayer is awesome; Orrin Hatch, who's always been a fuckhead, and John Kerry, whoring for the Christian Scientists who have their headquarters in Massachusetts.

This is, on a scale of one to mind-bogglingly stupid, at least a 12. It's the kind of proposal that condemns any system in which it's even up for debate. We should apologize to the universe for having reached the point where we're arguing about this. Of course you shouldn't cover prayer in your health care plan. First, prayer doesn't work. And don't give me any bullshit about psychosomatic placebo effects. If we want to treat people using psychosomatic placebo effects, then it should be done by professionals. Lying professionals with sugar pills, yes, but still professionals.

Plus, this is being pushed by Christian Scientists, who live firmly in the "prayer OR penicillin" world, not the "penicillin AND prayer" world. They are fucked in the head and should not be encouraged in any way by the government.

Second, even if it worked, prayer isn't health care. It's prayer. Churches already get tax-free status and essentially zero scrutiny for doing whatever it is that they do. That ought to be enough. They don't get to be health care providers just because they pray for someone to get better. If I prayed for you to make money, that wouldn't make me a financial advisor. If I prayed for Jeff Dunham to be funny, that wouldn't make me a comedy writer.

And third, even if it worked, and even if we could justify calling it health care, having insurance companies pay for it would be obscene. Because it's prayer. Prayer is free. Anyone can pray. Charging money for prayer implies that some people are better at prayer than others - that your desperate pleas to God, kneeling by your bedside, are merely amateurish wishes, when what you should be doing is giving your hard-earned money to the praying professionals of Christian Science who will, for a fee, intervene with God on your behalf. Or, even better, they'll do it for a LARGE fee reimbursed by Kaiser.

And Kerry, Hatch, and Shimkus are enabling this extortion? I understand Hatch and Shimkus doing it. They're assholes. That's what assholes do. But listen to the pathetic defense Kerry's spokesman, Whitney Smith, puts up. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"The amendment would prevent insurers from discriminating against benefits that qualify as spiritual care if the care is recognized by the IRS as a legitimate medical expense. Plans are free to impose standards on spiritual and medical care as long as both are treated equally. It does not mandate that plans provide spiritual care."

First of all, why the fuck would spiritual care be treated equally with medical care? They're DIFFERENT. Specifically, only one of them works. I think treating them unequally is a great idea. But here's the best part. "...if the care is recognized by the IRS as a legitimate medical expense". This means that the IRS recognizes prayer as a legitimate medical expense already. Which is completely fucking insane.

In fact, according to several news reports, not only does the IRS allow you to itemize prayer as a medical expense on your tax forms, "some federal medical insurance programs, including those for military families, also reimburse for prayer treatment". And here we were worried about rabid, proselytizing Christian charities getting federal money as one of Bush's "faith-based initiatives". At least in those cases, people got a sermon AND food. Here, people are getting paid, by federal insurance programs, to pray people better.

Crazyworld just keeps getting crazier and crazier the closer you look at it.

*Which is, by the way, the single most appropriate Congressional abbreviation in the history of Congressional abbreviations.

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