From time to time I’ve received everything from chocolate to venison from patients, but they have never given such gifts with an expectation of using them for payment for medical services. Nevada Republican Sue Lowden has raced a lot of ridicule since she suggested battering for medical services as a potential solution to the health care crisis. When we first heard this, many bloggers along with myself gave her the benefit of the doubt and at least thought she meant bargaining over prices, as opposed to bartering. I also noted that this happened to be the topic of the Dilbert cartoon published that same day.
Lowden stuck with this argument, and made it clear she was really advocating true bartering–chickens for checkups.
“Let’s change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I’m telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say I’ll paint your house,” she said. “[That's] what people would do to get health care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people.”
“I’m not backing down from that system,” she added.
Greg Sargent reports she is finally backing down:
It took around two weeks and a good deal of national ridicule, but Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sue Lowden has finally backed off of her apparent advocacy for a “chickens for checkups” barter policy to bring down health care costs.
In an interview with a local station in Nevada today, Lowden clarified her original comments, claiming she’d been taken out of context. Lowden added she had merely made a “casual statement” designed to describe an ongoing reality, and hadn’t intended to offer a policy prescription.
“They took it way out of context,” Lowden said in the interview, blaming Harry Reid’s campaign tracker for plucking the quote out of an hour-long conversation about multiple topics.
“The truth of the matter is there is bartering going on in this state and in the country,” Lowden said. “It has been going on for years.” She added she had merely made “a casual statement talking about the reality of what’s going on.” Audio here.
In a follow up interview, Lowden spokesperson Crystal Feldman confirmed her intent. “Sue’s comment on bartering was never a policy proposal,” Feldman said, adding it was “an insight on how struggling families in Nevada are working to pay for medical care during these tough times.”
The problem for Lowden stemmed from the fact that she seemed to stray into advocating for a barter system, rather than just describing existing circumstances. In her original quote, Lowden said that “bartering is really good” to “get prices down in a hurry,” urging people to “go ahead and barter with your doctor.”