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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

'BARTER WITH YOUR DOCTOR' ???????

The Washington Monthly

April 12, 2010

'BARTER WITH YOUR DOCTOR'.... Once in a great while, we get a peek at Republicans' health care ideals, but rarely do we see them articulated as candidly as Sue Lowden described them last week.

Lowden is a former state senator and chair of the Nevada Republican Party. She's also, according to nearly every recent poll, the favorite to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in November. Lowden is not, as one might imagine, a supporter of recent improvements to the broken health care system, and she was asked at a candidate forum the kind of policies she'd prefer to see. Among her proposals:

"...I would have suggested, and I think that bartering is really good. Those doctors who you pay cash, you can barter, and that would get prices down in a hurry. And I would say go out, go ahead out and pay cash for whatever your medical needs are, and go ahead and barter with your doctor."

Think about how this would work outside the realm of campaign rhetoric, and apply it to real-life. Someone feels ill and makes an appointment to see a doctor. The patient is concerned about her health -- maybe the ailment is serious -- and is feeling sick. The physician evaluates her condition and recommends some medication and tests.

At this point, in Lowden's vision, the ailing patient should turn to the medical professional and say, "Well, you know, that medication will probably cost about $200. Tell you what; how about I give you $130 and we call it even? And those tests you think I need sound kind of expensive. I may have a life-threatening illness, and I'm feeling weak and vulnerable, but I'm also looking for the best possible bargain. What kind of deal can you give me on that CT scan? And do I really need that blood work done?"

I also enjoyed hearing the would-be senator encourage people to "pay cash for whatever your medical needs are." Since Republicans tend to think Americans already have too much health insurance, Lowden's advice fits nicely into the larger GOP worldview.

Remember, Lowden has had plenty of time to craft her message on health care policy, and this is what she's come up with.

It seems hard to imagine voters finding this compelling, but it's an odd year.

Update: Some readers have suggested that I've confused "bartering" with "bargaining." Actually, I think Lowden has them confused. Unless the Republican candidate actually imagines a scenario in which sick people trade unrelated products and services for medical care, she probably was proposing some kind of haggling scenario.


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