In the annals of “Things You Probably Wish You Hadn’t Said,” Sue Lowden, the Republican candidate to replace Nevada Senator Harry Reid, suggested last week that bartering for medical care was a workable substitute for the Affordable Care Act, which she is campaigning to repeal.
Surprisingly, after being called out and roundly mocked for the suggestion, she doubled down on the idea:
“You know, before we all started having healthcare, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say, ‘I’ll paint your house.'”
I know that it’s hardly fair to pile on someone running for office for a bit of stump-speech dumbassery, but it just needs to be said. As much as I enjoy a nice chicken sandwich from time to time, barter is not a feasible mode of payment for services anymore. A doctor can’t pay his staff, his rent, or his malpractice insurance in chickens.
A related suggestion was the idea of patients negotiating the price for services directly with their doctors. This also fails the giggle test on a number of levels.
First of all, that is one of the advantages of belonging to an insurance program — they do the negotiating for you, and because of their size they command much deeper discounts than any individual ever could. This assumes that a doctor even cares to discuss price with an individual patient. I never do this in the ER, not only because of the circumstances, but because I honestly don’t know in advance exactly which of the thousands of codes (and prices) a given patient interaction will result in. Moreover, without the protection of insurance, the likelihood that any private individual will be able to afford the cost of an ER visit — let alone a surgery or hospitalization — is essentially nil.
It’s depressing to realize that there’s a substantial likelihood that this dimwit will be the next senator from Nevada.
Update: Also, it was noted that her history includes a malicious indifference to the healthcare needs of those less fortunate than herself: When Sue Lowden headed a Santa Fe hotel and casino, management forced a group of workers to shift to part-time status and sign away their healthcare coverage, said a judge who ruled that the company violated fair labor practices.
Nice. That’s a real charmer you’re sending to the senate, Nevada.
*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*