Tennessee GOP State Rep.: Some People Pay For Health Care With Vegetables

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It turns out that Senate candidate Sue Lowden (R-NV) is not the only politician out there who has promoted the idea of the barter system as part of health care. Yet another pro-barter Republican, state Rep. Mike Bell (R-TN), has been talking up the practices of Mennonites who pay doctors with vegetables.

Bell’s made his comments last week, during discussion of a proposed state law that would attempt to nullify the federal health care insurance mandate in the state of Tennessee. Here is a transcript of a dialogue in committee between Bell and Democratic state Rep. Joe Towns, courtesy of the Nashville Scene, as Bell explained that many people get along without insurance:

Bell: They’re some of the healthiest people you have ever seen. They pay cash when they go to the doctor. They work out arrangements with the hospitals if their children have to be hospitalized. This is an individual choice that we’re talking about.

Towns: You’re saying they pay cash? For organ transplants and cancer and heart cases, they pay cash?

Bell: I said they pay cash or work out other arrangements. I know for a fact. I know someone in the medical field who has been paid with vegetables from the Mennonite community.

Towns: That’s an anomaly. That’s not how the system works. I can’t take a sack of vegetables down to the utility company and pay my utility bill on my house. Nobody’s going to take vegetables for payment. We can’t run the country on vegetables and horse trading.

The GOP has been struggling to find a coherent strategy for how to address the new health care law. The official slogan is “Repeal and Replace,” but there is in fact division over whether to fully repeal the law, and just how far to go. And it appears that some people may want to go all the way back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

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