The feathers are flying in the political attacks over Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden’s declarations that people could control health care costs through the use of barter.
On Monday, Lowden doubled down on the barter idea. “Let’s change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I’m telling you that this works,” Lowden said. “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.”
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rolled out its new satirical website, “Chickens For Checkups,” in which readers can send a form letter to Lowden asking how they can find a doctor who would treat various olden-days ailments such as rickets, “ill humours,” “the vapors” and others, in exchange for various types of livestock or even “indentured servitude.” (Hat tip to Greg Sargent.)We asked the Lowden campaign for further comment on what sort of policies Lowden might advance in order to facilitate the further use of barter — that is, how could we incorporate these practices into an economic system in which doctors work for hospitals, which in turn are corporations that interact with insurance companies and process large amounts of money back and forth? And how would the tax implications be handled, with current law requiring that barter transactions be reported to the IRS and taxed at their market cash value?
The Lowden camp referred us back to their statement from earlier today, which declared in part: “Bartering with your doctor is not a new concept. There have been numerous reports as to how negotiating with your doctor is an option and doctors have gone on the record verifying this. Unfortunately, Harry Reid’s failed leadership forces us to take drastic measures.”
They also referred us to Lowden’s issues page on “Health Care Solutions,” which details her more general proposals on health care, and does not mention the barter system.