Backers of health care reform on Capitol Hill want a plan that mandates insurance for all—but they appear willing to bend the rules for some religious Americans, Maura Reynolds of CQ Politics reports. Current legislation contains a religious exemption based on tax laws meant to give leeway to the Amish. But other religious groups may try to use the exception to dodge the insurance mandate.
Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites number just 200,000 to 250,000. But Christian Scientists, for example, favor “spiritual healing” and might manage exemptions. Unlike legislation in Massachusetts, which mandates health care, the federal legislation doesn’t contain a penalty for those who file for a religious exemption, then see a doctor anyway. Applicants for the exemption must show they’re members of a “qualifying sect” that’s existed since 1950.