Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chickens For Checkups? Well, Maybe

In a bizarre reversal today, I'm pretty much the only one in the media willing to NOT fall for the predictable snark that has emerged from Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden's suggestion that people try bartering for health care. She, of course, wants to unseat Harry Reid this year.

It's just much too easy to make fun in this case. Y'know what's harder? Actually looking at whether bartering for health care is even possible.

Turns out, it is. Maybe not by arriving at a doctor's office with a chicken under your arm, but there are certainly serious ways to do it. Read all about it in my just-up AOL News piece. If you can provide any service -- dog-walking, house-painting, copy editing, lawn-mowing -- then there is, in fact, a way for you to build up credits through a barter exchange and use them for certain sorts of health care services. It's not an actual, broad-based solution to the rising cost of health care, to be sure, but it's also not as ridiculous a notion as it seems on first blush. And yes, I thought it was nuts when I first heard it, too.

If my piece doesn't convince you, here are pieces from years past from MSNBC, CNN Money and Kaiser News Network. The Vegas and DC punditocracy finds these stories inconvenient because to them the actual substance of her remarks don't matter. Is it not the media's JOB to tell the public that (a) Lowden didn't say it was a total fix but (b) it is actually something that is practiced and could be viable for some people in some situations?

MSNBC's Countdown and Rachel Maddow shows, of course, have mocked Lowden. But guess what? Countdown host Keith Olbermann presented this report below in 2005 with a remark by the reporter, "An old-fashioned idea working for modern medicine" and Olbermann saying, "It sounds like it does fulfill needs on both sides of the equation."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mediaite slammed fill-in Countdown host Lawrence O'Donnell for somewhat mischaracterizing Lowden's proposal but still agreed she's loony tunes. Can't wait until there's video of Olbermann saying in 2005 that bartering sounds like an interesting innovation and in 2010 finding it hilarious.

And, to borrow from Maddow, one more thing. Look at the screen behind Rachel during this report last night:

Yes, the WHHSH cliche is irksome, obvious and cheap. But in Lowden's case, it's also inaccurate. Her two major public remarks about bartering occurred in Mesquite and Reno.


Las Vegas Photo said...

Nice informative site..

atdnext said...

Umm... Sorry, Mr. Steve, but I still find Lowden's "Barter-care" plan ridiculous. Here's why. How many chickens are needed to pay for chemotherapy? How much house painting will it take to pay for a heart transplant? How much copy editing does it take to pay for diabetes medication?

For people like my dad and my grandmother who need treatment but are too disabled to do these kinds of things to fulfill their end of Sue Lowden's "Barter-care", they'd be screwed. And for people who aren't the types of professionals that an offer valuable enough services (like legal advice or PR help), they'd also be screwed.

And btw, I've seen the rest of Lowden's health care "plan", and none of that makes sense, either. Law suits account for less than 2% of health care costs, so "tort reform" won't do anything. But then again as someone who broke the law in trying to force her employees to sign away their health care benefits, I don't expect any real health care solutions from Sue Lowden.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I know I disagree with you on many things in the political arena, but you deserve respect for getting it right. Seriously.


aunt stephy said...

The point is, some people think you shouldn't HAVE to barter for healthcare.
Should someone have to take a week off work in order to paint a doctor's house because mom needed a checkup and an xray? Should someone have to clean their doctor's toilets in order to get a treatment plan? Should I have to wait until my backyard garden produces enough peas and tomatoes before I try to get that cavity filled?

In essence, should someone have to become an indentured servant in order to have healthcare? That's the issue here.


ATD - please don't go all knee-jerk liberal on me here. bartering is as much Sue Lowden's overall health care policy as checking tire pressure on cars was Obama's overall energy policy. I don't recall you mocking him at that time and that's because you knew the difference between a minor suggestion or idea and a major view. If you want to debate Lowden on health care reform, have at it. But if you have any hope that people will have honest debates on real issues with actual facts, start at home by giving up on the idiotic chickens-for-surgery notion which you and I both know this candidate never said. She was referring to something that was done years ago and exists in some form now that a lot of people don't know about.

Sorry, but oversimplified political discourse offends me from any side.

Jeff in OKC said...

You're right, Steve. Back a couple years ago, when I was in my "child-bearing years", it was commmon for OB-GYN Doctors to trade out office visits for pregnant mothers with anything of value they could come up with. Another barter item was vasectomies.
Both items have a high percentage of un, or under insured patients, combined with an active age group. There was a lot of car detailing and dent fixing done in exchange for those health care services.

atdnext said...

Mr. Steve-

I'm not going all "knee-jerk liberal" here. I'm trying to apply logic to an illogical proposal, and it just doesn't make sense. And I actually did bring up her other proposals, like asking for cash discounts and enacting "tort reform". Medical malpractice law suits account for less than 2% of health care costs, so limiting malpractice won't do anything to lower costs. And since most doctors are now part of management teams under contract to charge certain rates and offer only so many discounts, haggling for "better cash rates" just isn't possible.

Now I've had my many disagreements with President Obama on health care policy over the years (like shutting out single-payer, or not being strong enough on the public option, or initially refusing to consider mandates before relenting), but at least he offered serious health care policy. So has Harry Reid. But what has Sue Lowden offered so far? It's not like I'm putting these crazy words in her mouth.

Sorry, but Sue Lowden actually has to offer serious policy if she wants to be taken seriously.