Is It Possible to Banish Anger?

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

Whether living in sunny Florida or sunny Southern California, we all are sometimes faced with the opportunity to negate negative thoughts. My colleague Bob Clark, media spokesperson and legislative advocate for Christian Science in Florida, recently wrote a column for The Tampa Bay Times on the importance of banishing anger in all its forms as an effective way for healthier living.Continue Reading

The Affordable Care Act and You

The Affordable Care Act and You

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by Don Ingwerson

The Federal Office is working to keep everyone abreast of up-to-date Affordable Care Act information. Here is their latest:

What do you know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it will affect you? If you’re a bit unsure, you’re not alone! A March 2013 Kaiser poll indicated that 57% of Americans did not feel they had enough information to understand how the law would impact them personally.

Of course, it’s not easy—the ACA, passed in 2010, contains a host of deadlines, descriptions, and details that are being rolled out over a span of several years.

However, there are a number of resources available to help individuals understand the law and when and how its changes might affect them.

One of these resources is our newly-updated portal to information on the Affordable Care Act in an “Affordable Care Act FAQs” page on our website. Whether you have a specific question or are seeking information generally, we encourage you to check out the U.S. Federal Office’s new FAQ page!

Insights from Washington, D.C. Visits

Insights from Washington, D.C. Visits

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by Don Ingwerson

Last week I shared with you Fruitage From the Field: Katie Sue Brown on Capitol Hill about her experience visiting Washington, D.C. to talk about healthcare reform. Well this week while browsing the Federal Committee on Publication site I came upon Spiritual Support. I was excited to see that this is the page where a collection of stories from people from different states who had visited Capitol Hill are now located. Here are some highlights:

Linda Osmundson says, “…Each meeting was an opportunity to know that those we’d be meeting with were naturally interested and open to learning about Christian Science, and that there would be no resistance or confusion. Since I am Chair of the Board of Wellsprings, a Christian Science Nursing organization in Florida, it was also an opportunity to explain what non-medical nursing care entails. I live in the same county as the spiritual headquarters for Scientology, and we were also able to address any confusion between the two religions and distinguish Christian Science as a Bible-based religion founded by Mary Baker Eddy.”

Kate Johnson recounted, “…The individuals we met with were attentive and thoughtful. Many of us shared healings we had had or witnessed, which were received with gratitude. One staffer shared an “aha” moment she had had during her Bible study group that morning, and it turned out that she loves the Christian Science Monitor. I think we could have spent much more time with her than we did, but we had to stop to make it to our next meeting!”

Leroy Gatlin explains, “…The spiritual basis of these meetings, then, was to pray for good government and for our legislators, to lift impositions that would try to keep the public from finding the Comforter and its ever-available healing power, and to obey the First Commandment and the Golden Rule. In the end, I felt we had friendly and productive discussions that opened thought to a greater awareness of and respect for Christian Science and those who practice it.”

To read all of these stories, click here: Spiritual Support

Capitol Hill Meetings Bring Blessings

Capitol Hill Meetings Bring Blessings

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by Don Ingwerson

I mentioned last month an effort by Christian Scientists to meet Members of Congress to discuss health care reform in our annual Capitol Hill Day. The Federal Office has posted an update on these efforts:

Over the past four years, we’ve had the privilege of working with many Christian Scientists throughout the country—from Hawaii to Maine—who have volunteered their time in coming to Washington, DC, to meet with Members of Congress. They’ve carved out time from their workweeks, vacations in DC, and family time to advocate for Christian Science.

Last month, we worked with over 100 such individuals in DC at the same time—“Capitol Hill Day 2013”. Over the course of two days, they met with over 300 Congressional offices to ask for their support of solutions for Christian Scientists!

The value of the event has been very clear, as we began relationships with new offices and built on existing ones with others. This effort resulted in many more Members of Congress actively supporting solutions for Christian Scientists.

It’s wonderful to see so tangibly the fruits of these meetings! And it seems that the Christian Scientists who have participated have found the experience meaningful, too—and even fun. But you don’t have to take our word for it:

The diversity of church members who have been a part of these kinds of meetings on Capitol Hill is tremendous! As Houston architect Carlos Machado notes, “working with other Christian Scientists from very diverse backgrounds and seeing each one of them shine in different ways during the meeting days” was one of the highlights of his experience on the Hill.

Carlos also says that he was “very grateful for the care expressed by the members of Congress and their staff…[and] left DC with a much deeper appreciation for the work being done by government officials.”

He’s not the only one who’s come away from these meetings with this type of newfound appreciation. Mimi Oka, who lives in New York City, is a Christian Science practitioner with a background in investment banking and performance art. Earlier this year, she came to us with an offer to come to DC and meet with some Members of Congress she and her husband know personally. Reflecting on her time trekking around the Hill, Mimi says the meetings “made me appreciate our democracy, the dedication of our elected officials, that we can really get past the fractious nature of partisan politics, that Christian Science really benefited from the support of core values enshrined in our constitution.”

Californian Rob Hummel says he felt “gratitude…for the opportunity to be able to participate and play a small part in this activity in supporting our church” during his two meeting-filled days. In fact, Rob, who has had a career in motion pictures that includes cinematography, visual effects, post production, and involvement with restoration of films like The Wizard of Oz, ended up canceling a speaking engagement in London to join us on Capitol Hill!

It can be incredibly rewarding to participate in a meeting. Pennsylvania Committee on Publication Debby Kowit shares, “It was heartwarming to interact with those who expressed a genuine interest in what we had to say.” Debby has joined us in DC more than once, and was very pleased to discover during her latest trip that several of the offices remembered the previous meetings!

We are deeply grateful for the extraordinary support from the Field over the past several years and as we continue to move forward as well!

To read this post on the Federal Office site, click here: The blessings of meetings on Capitol Hill

Health Care Reform Update

Health Care Reform Update

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This is the latest update from the U.S. Committee on Publication Federal Office on the health care reform efforts:

For more than three years, the U.S. Federal Office has been actively engaged in the conversation about health care reform on Capitol Hill to represent the unique perspective of Christian Scientists and others who use spiritual care services—and we are making excellent progress.

Under the 2010 health care law—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA)—most Americans will be required to purchase health insurance by 2014 (except, for example, those who are enrolled in Medicare Part A). For Christian Scientists and others who use spiritual care services, there is a looming inequity: the required health insurance will likely not include the type of care they use, nor does the law provide for a religious exemption that meets their needs.

To remedy this situation, the U.S. Federal Office is pursuing several approaches that have been well-received, including these:

  • Requesting that the federal and state governments include coverage of Christian Science practitioner and nursing services in the benefits that will be offered by health insurance plans through the state insurance exchanges. Given the intent of PPACA to provide coverage for all, it seems fair that the law meet the “essential” health needs of all individuals regardless of faith. This would be consistent with the long history of government accommodations for Christian Science health services in Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.
  • Seeking a legislative solution with Congress that would allow anyone with a “sincerely held religious belief” against purchasing the mandated health insurance to be exempted from the requirement. The current religious exemption in PPACA gives preference to a few select faiths—allowing the Amish, the Mennonites, and Health Care Sharing Ministries to opt out—without respecting the rights of all faiths. We believe the rights of religious minorities should be respected when it comes to their health care decisions.

We’re very grateful for the many members of Congress who have actively worked on behalf of Christian Scientists in both of these efforts, and we appreciate the continued effective engagement and support of Christian Scientists and their friends as we move forward. If you would like to be in touch with the Federal Office about health care reform, please feel free to email at federal@christianscience.com, or find out more about what you can do to get involved.

 

Maintaining Health Through Mandatory Insurance – A Fuzzy Picture

Maintaining Health Through Mandatory Insurance - A Fuzzy Picture

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Model used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

What comprises good health and how to maintain it can sometimes add up to a fuzzy picture for many of us. A growing number of studies point to the ineffectiveness and inappropriate use of drugs, while over-diagnosis and over-treatment by physicians continue to be a concern.

Then there’s the ongoing dialogue about the lifestyle choices we make – the impact of food choices and the value of exercise. But even in these areas, health journals issue a word of caution – individual results are dependent upon personal characteristics and don’t necessarily correspond to research findings.

As individuals create health habits that help them become more accountable for their own health decisions, mandated health insurance policies should provide benefits to cover the services that individuals use to support their health. Many newer studies are indicating that more holistic views and practices enhance the health of those who choose them. Among these holistic views are alternative therapies, which include meditation and prayer. According to author Cara Santa Maria, “An overwhelming 83 percent of Americans say that God answers prayers…”

Yet, even as more of the public see spirituality and prayer as effective in helping individuals maintain their health, researchers remind us that the beneficial effect of prayer/spirituality isn’t confined to churchgoers. Many believe that health care providers should take advantage of this correlation between health and spirituality by tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate the spiritual beliefs of the people being treated.

With more holistic treatments offered by health care providers, more patients likely will take advantage of these treatments – an idea echoed by Dr. Michael J. Barry, MD, who believes patients are ready to hear the message of shared decision making, less treatment, and the inclusion of spirituality.

Although adding spiritual care services like meditation and prayer to an insurer’s list of covered benefits will not, in and of itself, turn our current disease care system into a bona fide health care system, it is a step in the right direction – a step that much of the public desires, that could save money, and that could have a very real impact on the health of our state and our nation.

If nothing else, it could give focus to a pretty fuzzy picture of how to obtain health through the nation’s new and untried health care system, which at present is still deciding what treatment options to offer.

Article first published in Blogcritics

Important Year Ahead!

Important Year Ahead!

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The U. S. Federal Office for the Committee on Publication is actively engaged in health care reform. Here is their latest posting of information that I hope will be helpful.

We’re heading into 2013 with great momentum as we continue working in the area of health care reform. It promises to be a big year, with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to purchase health insurance going into effect on January 1, 2014, and with Christian Scientists still waiting to learn what their options will be under this law. We’ll continue to stay in close touch as we know more in the coming months.

We’re vigorously pursuing several options, including:

(1) Opt-out—gathering support from Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to expand the Affordable Care Act’s religious conscience exemption so that anyone—including Christian Scientists—with a sincerely held religious belief against purchasing the required medical insurance can be exempt from the law’s mandate to have it.* A bipartisan group of nearly sixty Members of Congress has agreed to support this effort, and, though the timing is not yet certain, we’re working to achieve the goal as soon as possible.

(2) Inclusion—requesting that federal and state governments include coverage of Christian Science practitioner, Christian Science nursing facility, and individual Christian Science nursing services in the benefits that will be offered in health insurance plans at the state health insurance marketplaces that will open in October 2013. Our discussions with federal and state governments about the inclusion of Christian Science health care services remain very promising.

We recognize that you and your family are facing important decisions this year about how to respond to the new requirements in the Affordable Care Act. We hope you regard our office as both an advocate and a resource for you during this process. We will continue to keep you updated about our progress throughout the year.

You know what? A key component of these efforts is church members like you!

If you’re wondering how you can help, here are a few suggestions:

  • Let us know if you know a Member of Congress, or if you’re planning to be in Washington, DC. It may be that a meeting with your Member of Congress about the dilemma faced by Christian Scientists under the Affordable Care Act is just what’s needed to earn his or her support.
  • Support this work metaphysically and read the inspiration others have found in our spiritual support forum!
  • Tell your fellow church members and friends about our newsletter, and encourage them to sign up! (It’s easy to do through our website.) This is the fastest way for us to engage you in the legislative work.
  • Make sure we have your correct address! This allows us to contact you if we need help with your particular district or state.
  • Stay updated through our website, Twitter, and these newsletters!

And dear friends, thank you for your continued support! It’s so essential to our progress! We are immensely grateful for your help—whether you’ve met with or written to your Member of Congress, visited our office or website, subscribed to our newsletter, or supported the Federal Office’s work in your prayers!

* Reminder—individuals who are enrolled in Medicare Part A by January 1, 2014, need not buy any additional insurance. They will already satisfy the law’s minimum requirements for health insurance.

About the Federal Office

Federal-Office 2by Don Ingwerson

I wanted to share the updated information about the Committee on Publication Federal Office. I hope you find it informative. It can be found here: http://christianscience.com/member-resources/for-churches/committee-on-publication/u.s.-federal-office/about-the-u.s.-federal-office

The Christian Science Committee on Publication U.S. Federal Office, established in 1943, works with U.S. Congressional, executive, and regulatory offices. Our mission is to help these federal offices and the public gain a more accurate understanding of Christian Science, including its longstanding contribution in the field of healthcare and healing. We also work to ensure that spiritual health care services, such as those provided by Christian Science practitioners, Christian Science nurses, and Christian Science nursing facilities – including the public’s access to them – are not adversely affected by any law.

Confronting adverse legislation in his day, the first Manager of the Committees on Publication, Alfred Farlow, wrote to his colleagues in 1908:

“It seems to me that we will have to give some heed to the elections, make friends with our neighbors who are in the legislating business and lose no opportunity to broaden their sense of fairness and justice.”

For more than three years, the U.S. Federal Office has been speaking with governmental offices about the federal health care reform efforts that culminated in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA). While this law does not yet contain any religious accommodation or exception for Christian Scientists and others who use spiritual care services for their health, we continue to actively work towards this goal.

If you are interested in helping the U.S. Federal Office, we encourage you to explore various ways of getting involved. Similarly, if you have any questions or suggestions for our work, please do not hesitate to be in touch via telephone at (202) 296-2190 or by sending an email to federal@christianscience.com.

Covered California Initial Public Sentiment on Health Insurance Reforms

Covered California Initial Public Sentiment on Health Insurance Reforms

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by Don Ingwerson

The California Benefit Exchange (Covered California) recently shared the results of an extensive research survey as to the interests of interviewed Californians. The following is a report of those findings (found on the California Health Benefit Exchange news site). We must remember that by January, 2014 most every individual will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Key findings from a statewide qualitative research study suggest that a vast majority of those interviewed are interested in purchasing health insurance through Covered California’s online marketplace set to open in October 2013. The research consisted of in-depth, in-person, one-on-one interviews with 412 Californians across the state in 12 different languages. The 30-minute interviews were conducted among a diverse roster of insured and uninsured Californians from October 12 through November 13, 2012. The research is needed to better understand Californians’ levels of awareness, perceptions, and attitudes towards health care insurance reforms coming to California in 2013. Findings will support a more effective marketing and outreach campaign that will begin next year. “This initial research demonstrates that Californians are curious and positive about Covered California and the marketplace,” said Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of Covered California. “This type of focused, but diverse research is helpful in identifying priority areas for education and outreach, and will help us measure ongoing effectiveness of our marketing efforts.” Californians interviewed cited their most significant reasons for their interest in purchasing a plan though Covered California’ marketplace is to “save money,” “gain health care access,” and “peace of mind.” Those expressing less of a desire to purchase insurance through Covered California cited potential costs and lack of need.

The study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, is available here: http://www.healthexchange.ca.gov/BoardMeetings/Documents/December%2018%202012/CHBE_Presentation-MarketStudyFocusGroupFindings_12-18-12.pdf. “California’s diverse population necessitates we talk to as many people in as many languages as possible to understand what Californians think about health care reforms,” said Larry L. Bye, a senior fellow in the Public Health Research Department at NORC. “When Covered California opens its doors to enrollment in October 2013, it will do so with a thorough understanding of its potential customers.”

About Covered California California was the first state to create a health benefit exchange following the passage of federal health care reform. It is charged with creating a new insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase competitively priced health plans using federal tax subsidies and credits beginning in 2014. Covered California is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and Legislature; the California Health and Human Services Secretary serves as an ex officio voting member and is its current Chair. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.healthexchange.ca.gov .

The Fix for Health Care – Holistic Medicine and Patient Choice?

The Fix for Health Care - Holistic Medicine and Patient Choice?

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by Don Ingwerson

Article first published in the U-T San Diego.

Amid the nation-wide debate about health care and each person’s search for a safe, effective, and affordable approach is the realization that being healthy is an individual responsibility and personal endeavor.

A synopsis of an article in The Atlantic by Dr. David H. Freedman says, “the medical profession kept a cool distance from alternative medicine, which most doctors dismissed as the province of hippies and snake oil salesman.” But with health care a topic of debate at the moment, Congress, medical professionals, and the public are all weighing in on what should be included in health care. With the mandate for most everyone to have health insurance coverage in 2014 – or pay a penalty – health care options are being reanalyzed with reference to breadth of coverage and cost.

Deepak Chopra, author and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California, speaks bluntly about the medicine he was taught and the kind he now practices. His experiences highlight the sometimes-strained relationship between conventional and alternative medical practitioners. When the New England Journal of Medicine reported that Americans pay more annually for visits to alternative practitioners than to MDs, physicians expressed great concern. But there has been increased interest among a number of conventional medical professionals since National Institutes of Health studies reported that approximately 38 percent of the public is spending $34 billion dollars a year on alternative medicine out of their own pocket. Chopra makes the following very succinct statement about this issue: “No one could really object to the aims of alternative medicine, which are to bring relief to the whole patient. Sick people come to us in hopes that their suffering will end. If millions of them have been seeking holistic treatments instead of the two-pronged approach of conventional medicine – drugs and surgery – their motivation isn’t irrational.”

And yet, retired British professor Edzard Ernst, a strong supporter and practitioner of complementary medicine, is not so sure. “The real reason, I have come to conclude, is that people are being lied to. Practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) often fail to explain what the evidence shows and does not show. It is a triumph of advertising over rationality:”

As physicians and hospital personnel who are receptive to this approach work to include alternative medicines in their treatments, they will also need to address ways for patients to be informed and be active decision makers. Hopefully, as the political leaders of our country experience grass roots support for a more holistic health care system, financial and regulatory support will be integrated into the health care insurance policies available to the public.

So just what is alternative medicine? The term is not well defined, but NIH studies name 10 alternatives: prayer, prayer for self, prayer for others, natural products, deep breathing, prayer groups, mediation, chiropractic care, yoga, massage, and diet therapies.

I consider my own system, whose roots can be traced to healings found in the New Testament, to be one of those alternatives because spiritual resources have been my main source of health care. One of the benefits of this form of health care is that I take more direct responsibility for my health, and have found that my progress is directly related to my own spiritual practice. It has provided prevention and cure that consistently reinforces the quality of my health.

If the current trend of patients asking for a variety of therapies continues, and this seems likely, it will be important for health care providers to look for ways to meet this demand, and for all options to be on the table when devising plans. Patients shouldn’t have to go outside the system to receive the care that works best for them.