Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 21, 2010

'BRING A CHICKEN TO THE DOCTOR'.... Sue Lowden (R), the leading Republican Senate candidate in Nevada, recently articulated her vision of how the American health care system should work. At a local candidate forum, Lowden, a former state senator and chair of the Nevada Republican Party, encouraged Nevadans to "go ahead and barter with your doctor." It would, she insisted, "get get prices down in a hurry."

I assumed that Lowden misspoke, and meant to say "bargain," not "barter," though the notion of bargaining with medical professionals is itself foolish. But she couldn't have meant "barter," since that's ridiculous.

I stand corrected. Lowden appeared on a Nevada news program earlier this week, and doubled down on her notion of a more effective system.

"I'm telling you that this works," the Republican candidate explained. "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.' I mean, that's the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down from that system."

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard from a candidate for statewide office. If there wasn't a video, I might not even believe it. According to nearly every recent poll, Lowden is the clear favorite to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in November, but that was before she started talking about trading livestock for medical care. It's a permanent credibility-killer. It's one thing to be a confused, far-right candidate. It's another to be a laughingstock.

Remember, the health care debate lasted a very long time. Lowden, who has been running for the Senate for nearly as long, has had plenty of time to carefully craft her message on health care policy. This is what she's come up with. Better yet, after becoming the subject of ridicule last week, Lowden had a chance to clarify this into a position that's less preposterous. Instead, she made it worse.

I'm trying to imagine how Lowden thinks this should work. Treating a mundane ailment -- say, a sore throat -- can cost a chicken. But how, exactly, does she imagine families pay for more serious treatments? What should Nevadans expect to bring to the doctor in exchange for an MRI exam? Or an emergency appendectomy? Or chemotherapy? Should the senior citizen who just had hip-replacement surgery offer to start painting the doctor's house?

If Dems are smart, they'll start taking this national -- ask every Republican candidate in the country whether they agree with Sue Lowden's "bring a chicken to the doctor" health care plan.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Great hair, though.

Posted by: MattF on April 21, 2010 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals are opposed to bartering because most of them have nothing of value to trade. They want to trade my tax dollars for their health care.

Posted by: Al on April 21, 2010 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Someone has been watching too many Little House on the Prairie episodes. If I was running against her, I would brand her Nelly Olsen and remind her that Walnut Grove only existed on a TV show.

I would hate to hear her solution to fixing a plumbing problem. A return to the outhouse would be almost certain.

Posted by: ashton on April 21, 2010 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Lowden has a bright future ahead of her in the Tea Party/GOP!

I'm sure her barter system will go down very well with the gold bugs as well as with the nuts with the tricorn hats and muskets that now make up the base of the conservative movement.

Posted by: g. powell on April 21, 2010 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I need to buy a farm so I'll have something to "barter". The stoopid is beyond belief. Jon Stewart and any number of comedians thank you Ms Lowden for writing their material.

Posted by: John R on April 21, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but, what if I am too sick to go shopping to get the chicken ahead of time? What does my doctor bill say / look like? Can I pay in thigh and drumstick installments? Do chicken livers have any value to the doctor? Bartering is way too complicated.

Posted by: Bill on April 21, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Another thought: Would sexual favors be allowed under Lowden's medical barter system?

Posted by: g. powell on April 21, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

This is a great post. But it goes wrong at the end with the "if Dems are smart...." They won't bother to do this, unfortunately.

Posted by: Bob on April 21, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

From Wikipedia (grammar mistakes in original):

Sue Lowden and her husband has in excess of $50 million dollars in stock holdings as filed to the Senate Office of Public Records ...

That'll go over well with the Tea Party crowd. I'm serious - it will. They really seem to go for the plutocrats.

Bet she doesn't have to do much bartering for medical care however.

Posted by: Basilisc on April 21, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

People lose their homes everyday to pay for life-saving treatment. Under Lowden's plan, we cut out the middleman and people lose their homes directly to the doctor. Brilliant!

Posted by: g. powell on April 21, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

As a rule, I've never been a fan of the stunt of mailing things to politicians. But the idea of bartering health care causes me to rethink that. If healthcare can be so easily solved with some chickens and paint, what about political campaigns? They need stuff all the time, and could raise much of it through direct donations of said stuff.
So I say, got the tail end of a pack of white paper? A 1/2 box of drinking straws? Maybe you recently changed your sparkplugs, only to realize the old ones still had some life left in them. Send them to Lowden's campaign headquarters! Campaigns spend cash on these very kinds of things. If she's correct, it will drastically reduce the cost of her political campaign and help make her make her case for bartering.

Posted by: JoeW on April 21, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Has the Nevada news media interviewed any doctors to gauge how eager they are to begin taking payment in barter?

Posted by: TJ_Moran on April 21, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Hate to burst your bubble but I know people without health insurance who in fact do barter for care. My sisters says the art of bartering is alive and well in Gunnison CO. When my little sister seriously burned her foot and was laid up for weeks while it healed, that's how she got by... on kindness and bartering. My sisters still commemorate the outpouring of support every year.

Posted by: Clevergirl on April 21, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon Steve, you know what this really is: a dog-whistle to a "simpler time", the time of Lowden's grandparents, which means when blacks and other minorities knew their place. Its this imaginary time w=When Everything Was Simple and Perfect that the teabaggers yearn to "return" to.

The GOP and the White Power movement are quickly coalescing into the same group. If Obama wins another term, that'll seal the deal.

Posted by: rob on April 21, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

One thing that has not been mentioned: accepting services like house painting in lieu of payment is also illegal. It's called unreported income. There really are some doctors who do this in certain circumstances, not chickens obviously, but things like construction services, etc. It is definitely illegal if it is not reported, and it usually isn't.

Posted by: Grammy Pat on April 21, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Googling “market price of live chickens” is not giving me very many useful results, but $10 per bird does not seem like an unreasonable estimate. So a course of chemotherapy, depending on exactly what kind of cancer you have and which drugs you need for it, could set you back anywhere from thirty to a thousand chickens.

No, I don’t see any problems with this arrangement at all, do you?

Posted by: Seth Gordon on April 21, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

"They want to trade my tax dollars for their health care."

No, dumbass, I want to trade my tax dollars--and yours--for my health care--and yours. That is, unless you want to pay for yours with chickens and house painting. In which case, be my guest.

Posted by: bill on April 21, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

"When my little sister seriously burned her foot and was laid up for weeks while it healed, that's how she got by... on kindness and bartering."

See how far "kindness and bartering" get you when you need open heart surgery or cancer treatment.

This imbecile will be US Senator next year. That's why I can't even laugh at her foolishness.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 21, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

"Hate to burst your bubble but I know people without health insurance who in fact do barter for care."

You failed to mention in your post what exactly your sister bartered in order to get medical care for her burns. Please specify exactly what health care professionals, hospitals and pharmacies accepted by barter instead of payment. It is most odd that you completely left this out of the post, as it really is the entire point, unless of course you are talking about bartering for something other than medical care, but than that would really miss the point completely.

Posted by: ashton on April 21, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

I have bartered my artwork for medical services, no kidding.

Posted by: the seal on April 21, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

I think doctors in Nevada need to start getting the word our that they won't barter for good or services when it comes to their bill. Cold hard cash and insurance are the only forms of payment taken.

She will get away with this shit because it sounds so simple and simple is better, no? No one locally is telling the idiots that fall for this shit that it's a non starter. They need to open laugh and mock her for this.

Posted by: ET on April 21, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Also interesting (again via Wikipedia) that she's a former Miss New Jersey. Cf Sarah Palin, Gretchen Carlson, Carrie Prejean ...

Kind of makes me wonder. Is there something about these contests that attracts young women who have a callous attitude towards everyone else who wasn't born beautiful? Or does their success in the contest cause the callousness? Do they actually think their success in the contest shows the value of hard work (which it does, but only partly), and that therefore people who aren't successful in life generally just didn't try hard enough?

Posted by: Basilisc on April 21, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, let's barter like they did in the olden days... and we can have the same kind of health care they had back then... none. That kindly country doctor with his plasters, poltices, phrenomology, etc would be charged with malpractice today... Anyone who takes the time and money to spread this far and wide deserves a medal for helping to educate the public on complex medical infrastructure.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 21, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

A turkey bringing a chicken.

Medicine has become a business with huge overhead costs, employees that need to be paid. Think suppliers and employees would accept a chicken wing as payment for services rendered?

Posted by: Cycledoc on April 21, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Did I miss the announcement that the use of money will be discontinued in the US? There sure is no reason to restrict this to health care.

With her talents Sue Lowden is bound to be a rising star on the Senate finance committee.

Posted by: eserwe on April 21, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

The Onion should simply post this story as a spoof... as is.

Posted by: tommybones on April 21, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, the "olden days." You know the time when people died from minor cuts that got infected, or a cold that turned into pneumonia because antibiotics hadn't been developed yet. The time when many mothers died following childbirth because the doctors didn't bother to wash their hands. The days when children died like flies during measle epidemics.

Posted by: winddancer on April 21, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone have any idea how much it would cost to administer a healthcare barter system? It would be huge.

Posted by: g. powell on April 21, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Is the non-coastal West becoming the new South?

Posted by: Michael7843853 on April 21, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Unless Jon Stewart does a piece on this- and excerpts are then run on the MSM- this story will never get legs.

It's sad that the Comedy Channel now has to do the work of H.L. Menkin. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 21, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Lowden would agree to provide her services as US Senator in exchange for say, 2 buckets of KFC a week (soft drinks and slaw included, of course), if elected.

Harry Reid really should show up at their debates with her "first month's wages" on a tray: a Morton chicken pot pie and some McNuggets.

Posted by: slader on April 21, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

-that's H.L. Mencken. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 21, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

This thing has "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" written all over it....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 21, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

But what if avian flu destroys your "savings"? And don't suggest cattle, we all know about Mad Cow and it's negative affects on personal savings.

Posted by: Breezeblock on April 21, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Someone should ask the beauty queen how many chickens it would take to pay for a $1500 emergency room visit.

Posted by: Shalimar on April 21, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

I once, many years ago, cleaned a virus off a dentist's office PC in exchange for having a tooth pulled. I don't think that would scale up, though -- if I install a network in exchange for cancer treatments, I can't really install another one.

Posted by: a different phil on April 21, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

If you don't have a couple of chickens to pay for your medical treatment, you can always depend on your neighbors to bring by a few of their barter items for you to use. I suppose my neighborhood should also have a bake sale to pay for a Predator drone and a cruise missile.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on April 21, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

One problem is that the doctor may already have more chickens than he needs (Government-run poultry farms to pay for Medicare springs to mind). If the doctor wanted an iPad instead, you'd need to trade the chickens to a rancher for a cow, trade the cow for a few iPads, then go back to the doctor. A burdensome system at best.

One thing we could do instead is have "barter tokens" whereby you sell the chicken to a supermarket for tokens, and use the tokens to pay the doctor - who could use the tokens to buy anything else in the barter system.

We could even set up some kind of national barter system, and have the Secretary of the Treasury sign each "barter tokens."

The barter tokens would need a name, though. How about dollars?

(In other words - we've got a barter system now, we just use dollars to make trading simpler.)

Posted by: RepubAnon on April 21, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

OK, everyone thought it was weird when the GOP started wanting to go back to the 1950s. Then they got into financial deregulation and it became obvious that they really wanted to go back to the 1890s. Then, in the South, a lot of people started to suspect that they really wanted to go back to the 1850s. Then they started doing away with Habeas Corpus, which would mean going back to the 1200s.

Now they want to go back to barter - in other words, before the invention of currency in the Fertile Crescent in approximately 2000 BC.

Posted by: ajay on April 21, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

It is not illegal to barter. But you are supposed to put a dollar value on the transaction and report it as taxable income.

Posted by: bob5540 on April 21, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

As for bargaining, not only wouldn't that work as a practical matter ("Gimme a 20% discount on this colonoscopy, or I walk!"), but Republicans are on record as opposing bargaining for medical care, in the case of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. C'mon Dems, throw something back in their faces for once.

Posted by: Basilsic on April 21, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Basilisc, very broad brush attemptin to lump a Miss America contestant with a Miss USA type such as Carrie Prejean. A ton of distance between them. However, Lowden, with her two degrees and a teaching certificate is not stupid, but, she, certainly, lacks any curiosity and awareness of life around her. In some small towns of this nation, the barter system does thrive, unreported income bedamned, but, on a national level of very serious medical procedures, it is ridiculous to tout such a system.

However, for a real lack of awareness, suggest readers check out her inane laughter of the insipid question by Heidi Harris about the 1981 assassination attempt on the life of Harry Reid. He was the head of Gaming Regulation in Nevada. A car bomb was found under his car. This was at a very volatile time in LV with Tony Spilotro running amok, similar attempts on the lives of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Ned Day, the FBI moving in on the skimming operations of the KC and Chicago mob. Yet, Lowden, who was a reporter for a local TV station at the time had, seemingly, never heard of the attempt and laughed it off on the Harris show. Harris, BTW, is a Chris Matthews fav. Considering Lowden moved into the gaming world with her becoming President of the Santa Fe Casino, this becomes even more strange. No, perhaps, she isn't stupid, but, she, certainly, views the world around her with blinders firmly attached and is very myopic.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 21, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. I live in a rural area and m y father is a dentist. He sees many uninsured patients. We raise cattle so sometimes he'll get some help fixing a roof, using a farmer's stud bull, building a barn or getting some hay/feed in exchange for dental services. From a dentist's point of view, he's helping people who are in pain while, and they get a maintain their pride. Obviously, bartering is not the answer, but for my specific situation, it works.

Posted by: matt on April 21, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Want to support the Lowden campaign?

Sent her a chicken!

Posted by: eserwe on April 21, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the real question to ask Ms. Lowden: Does she know how many chickens it would cost for treating a stage 4 breast cancer malignancy? or for open heart surgery? or for dialysis treatment 3 times a week for 6 months?

Research that, add some good visuals, and that's a political ad that could go viral.

Posted by: massappeal on April 21, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Good point, Basilsic. Progressives have actually favored bargaining on a larger scale with health care providers and drug companies, but the GOP is dead set against it. A big advantage of single-payer is that is makes bargaining possible.

The concept of individuals bargaining with their doctors is too ludicrous for words. I have a hard enough time getting my doctor to write the prescriptions properly so I get the lowest priced drugs - he doesn't want to be bothered with details like that. Just tell me when my Doctor is going to give me time for a negotiating session so we can work out the price structure of my exams and treatments?

Posted by: Virginia on April 21, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

How about people with Chronic Mental Illnesses?

Most people with Schizophrenia are living on disability. Here in MO that's about $600.00 per month. A chicken to these people is a feast. A barter system would drive specializations like psychiatry out of the healthcare system. In the long run it would cost more money because these people would wind up in-patient - the most expensive level of care for a psychiatric patient.

Jesus, is there no end to this ridiculousness?

Posted by: Rawls on April 21, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

My physyican tell me that his malpractice insurance carrier will not accept poultry as payment. Nor can he pay his student loans with livestock.

That aside, the only people that bartering can work for are those whose physicians run their own private practice. That is a smaller and smaller group of physicians these days.

Posted by: AK Liberal on April 21, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Well, you can do some bartering. We bartered a computer build for dental work, and some system support for contacts. But, you know, in the good old days medical services were simple and easily defined. MRIs did not exist. Many people lived on the farm and had services or goods to barter. Doctors were thin on the ground and could use "stuff". Nowadays, your doctor is way richer than you are, has all the stuff he/she needs and you have to be a specialist to offer something (ie computers or system administration). I have in fact bartered computer upkeep for hair dressing services, but you know, I have certain high-demand skills with definable time frames. How many people can do this realistically? Can a field hand barter picking onions? Not unless the doctor has an onion field. What can a housekeeper barter? Or a cashier?

Posted by: Carol on April 21, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Other ways this might work:

Bring a chicken and a gun to the doctor. If the doctor won't accept the chicken in exchange for medical services, wave the gun around and take the chicken hostage. When the S.W.A.T. team arrives, barter the chicken's life for a telephone call and an hour-long head start ............ or

..... shoot the doctor outright to teach the jerk the value of a chicken, and then return home, shoot the chicken, and prepare chicken-two-ways (the have-a-chicken and the eat-a-chicken, too) as your last supper.

How about this? Say, you're fine .... but your chicken is sick. Drive the sick chicken to the vet, and offer to clean the vet's clock in lieu of a monetary payment. When the S.W.A.T. team arrives .. well, you know what to do.

Better idea: If the new Republican Congress guts the health-care bill next winter, we offer, as barter and appreciation, to hack them and their chickens to pieces with machetes at their first town-hall meetings back home.

Why not revert to the old-time remedies that have always worked when dealing with an infestation of anti-American zombie assholes?

Posted by: JohnThullen on April 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

do people with mutiple personality disorder have to double their chicken payment?

This nitwit said one other thing interestng - that doctors are sympathetic people. I suppose that's generally true, once you weed out the a-holes closing their doors because of the HcR, or demanding you go elsewhere if you voted for Obama.

Posted by: slappy magoo on April 21, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

So, if I need, say, a $500,000. procedure, I could barter away my services, and the services of my children? Perhaps my home?

Sounds a lot like indentured slavery to me.

Posted by: John D'oh on April 21, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Basilisc, very broad brush attemptin to lump a Miss America contestant with a Miss USA type such as Carrie Prejean. A ton of distance between them.

Hmmmm, I guess I missed Miss America contestants kicking the intellectual asses of Miss USA contestants. Not that there can't be smart people in both pageants; it's just not the purpose of either one, as amply demonstrated by most of the participants in the hilarious "world peace" and "help the little children" question segment. (And yes, I know the MA scholarship program is the nation's largest just for women...and remain unimpressed that the country's biggest women-only scholarship program requires a bathing-suit-and-high-heels segment.)

Posted by: shortstop on April 21, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Erick Erickson of Redstate would permit his goat to be f-cked by his psychiatrist in exchange for treating whatever it is that ails him?

Posted by: John Thullen on April 21, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

@shortstop, as my wife was a Miss Teen Age America contestant representing California, several years ago and is very intelligent and a strong Progressive, she would have flogged me had I not come to her defense. BTW, she still gets chills recalling riding up an elevator in Dallas for that contest, just prior to the Kennedy assassanition and overhearing several Ten Gallon Hats types discussing how they were going to have to take that SOB, meaning JFK, out. But, she did get Mickey Mantle's autograph.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 21, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Well, spousal loyalty is a beautiful thing. And I know from your stories that your wife is an extremely bright individual, bert. But that's not why she was picked to represent California in the Miss Teenage America pageant.

I don't have any problem with beauty contests being beauty contests, BTW. I just find it amusing when pageant organizers try to spin the purpose of these things into something more in line with many modern sensibilities.

Posted by: shortstop on April 21, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I was in Vegas during the Iraq-Iran war. One morning, a local TV reporter spoke of a rocket attack by saying, "Many were killed and whole bunch more were wounded" - I wonder, now, if Lowden was not that young lady.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 21, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Having been uninsured, I do know that you can barter and bargain for your health care, but it doesn't help you much and in the end, you're still paying thousands of dollars out of pocket or forgoing necessary treatments. For example, I once knocked $100 off a $2,700 bill. Woo. Hoo.

My sister works at a vet clinic, and while we're talking pets, not people, bartering does go on all the time. The vet's gotten his whole office refurbished, but that only works if people have something he wants, mostly construction materials and expertise, and oftentimes bartering pays only a small portion of the bill.

In other words, it's never going to solve our health care crisis and Sue Lowden's a privileged idiot.

Posted by: FoxinSocks on April 21, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

But, two good things came out of that pageant. First, she received a scholarship for UCLA. Plus, she made a styrofoam cutout of her in that bathing suit and we have used it successfully in the garden to deter Crows.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 21, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

John Thullen - loved your "bring a chicken and a gun to the doctor" story. I laughed until my sides hurt! Thank you!

Posted by: winddancer on April 21, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight:

When I couldn't have a kidney stone removed (which is still lodged somewhere between by kidney and bladder) because the hospital -- an HCA variety owned by one Bill Frist -- refused to treat me unless paid at least half up front, I should have asked if they'd accept my sports-related autograph collection?

And instead just having my right elbow shot up with cortisone every few weeks, instead of having what is, in all likelihood, a torn tendon repaired, I should ask some orthopedic surgeon if he's interested in my old Xbox and PS2 (not the new ones -- the older models)?

May she, and all like her, rot in fucking hell.

Posted by: Mark D on April 21, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Ahh-- Meet the senator candidate from wimpy land 'I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today' Of course EVERYONE knew that Wimpy was a moocher who had no intentions of ever paying anyone back--

My only question is: factory bred or free range? There is a price differental ya know.

Posted by: tinka on April 21, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I assumed that Lowden misspoke, and meant to say "bargain," not "barter," though the notion of bargaining with medical professionals is itself foolish. But she couldn't have meant "barter," since that's ridiculous.

See, that's where you went wrong: They do ridiculous too. They do vicious, and ridiculous, and unbelievable, and racist, and misogynist, and stalker, and creepy ...

They just don't do human.

(Special free offer: Clip this out and tape it to your monitor as a handy guide if you want. No charge, no matter how often you use it.)

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on April 21, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

This proposal could totally work, the whole country just has to move to Mayberry.

When my father got cancer I can't imagine how we could possibly have paid for it in chickens. We'd have been showing up with a truck full of poultry everyday. The doctor needs chicken's, the anaesthetist, the radiologist, dozen's of lab technicians, nurses, cleaning staff, receptionists, etc. People will no longer go broke from paying doctor's bills, they will go broke from buying poultry farms.

Posted by: linus bern on April 21, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

In this virtual world I wonder if my doctor would be willing to take a few of my Farmville chickens, or maybe I can up the ante and offer a Farmville cow instead! Brilliant! Now I don't need my friends to help me build a barn for my surplus virtual livestock.

Posted by: cm on April 21, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Since it's Nevada, maybe some patients could offer to pay with lap dances....

Posted by: Jeremy B. on April 21, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder what I could get for 3 cats?

Posted by: whichwitch on April 21, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

@JohnThullen - LMAO....Wonderfully thought out!

Posted by: whichwitch on April 21, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what things were like where Lowden's grandparents lived, but in the "olden days" my grandfather was a student getting his PhD in Chemistry from MIT. As a student he lived with a relative who was a doctor in Massachusetts and I never heard any stories about Dr. Joslin taking chickens. Even 100 years ago the US Mint was producing perfectly good legal tender, and doctors were using it quite regularly.

I guess what I'm saying is, not only is this a stupid idea for our current health care environment, it is pure fantasy about how things "used to be" back in the "olden days."

And soon she will be a US Senator. What is wrong with this country?

Posted by: biggerbox on April 21, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

What Lowden is really saying has been the GOP health care plan all along. If you can't pay, just die.

Posted by: doubtful on April 21, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Treating a mundane ailment -- say, a sore throat -- can cost a chicken. "

Jeez, where are you from? Seth Gordon was kind enough to research the cost of live chickens, and I agree $10.00 per bird would be a reasonable estimate - likely on the high side, since you can buy a whole cooked chicken in many places for $8.00. When was the last time you got treated for a minor throat ailment at a doctor's office for less than $10.00?

This is crazy on so many levels that it's hard to know which string to pull first. I realize chickens is only the default suggestion, but she's essentially talking about replacing money with goods and services. There would be no requirement to keep a basement full of chickens against the possibility of unanticipated medical expenses; your doctor might accept Granny's breakfront china cabinet instead, or whatever.

How are you going to assign a value to all these things? Because I doubt the U.S,. government is going to abandon taxation anytime soon. If you work for livestock and furniture, that's your income, and come tax time, you better be able to explain that. The IRS is not going to come to your house and value all your loot, piece by piece, or accept your word that you didn't eat any of the chickens already.

We all know that Republicans like to wax sentimental about bygone days when a man wasn't properly dressed unless he wore a hat, his word was his bond, and he could go to town, have a woman, a steak dinner and buy a new pair of boots and still get change from 20 bucks. It probably is true that in small towns where the doctor knows you and your family since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, he might accept a reduced rate or something in exchange for an operation if he knew your family had fallen on hard times.

How's that going to work when you fall ill, or are injured, while you're away on a business trip where nobody knows you? You going to carry some chickens with you, just in case? Offer to give the doctor your laptop, or maybe some inside information on a pending merger? In order for healthcare to work, you have to know roughly how much an operation will cost, and how you're going to pay for it if you need one. If you have to save up chickens against a possible future medical procedure, you'll go broke on their care and feeding. The beauty of money is that you can prove you're good for it without actually carrying it all with you.

Is the new barter system going to be a motivator to America's ongoing need for highly-trained medical professionals? Well, what do you think? Are you going to spend four to six years in medical school so you can dicker with people over their healthcare needs, and then somehow place a value on all the goods you acquired so you can account for them at taxtime? When you know you could go to Canada or Europe and practice medicine for money, without all that foolishness? Seriously?

Making fun of Lowden is only likely to inspire a stubborn defense of her crackpot ideas. Showing in no uncertain terms that adopting such a ridiculous system even on a statewide scale would lead only to an immediate and massive departure of medical professionals for greener pastures would be the way to go.

Posted by: Mark on April 21, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

What if your doctor is allergic to chicken?

Posted by: PaulW on April 21, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Geez Mark@11:08 - can you imagine how much the airlines would charge for carrying some chickens?
"You charge extra for baggage, you charge extra for food, you charge me for carry-ons...but damn it, NOT FOR MY CHICKENS! You've finally crossed the line!"

Posted by: whichwitch on April 21, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Anyone want to answer that question?

Posted by: mike reilly on April 21, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Problem: I don't have any chickens. Does this mean I have to start raising them? Can I just give the doctor a kitten? For a major problem, maybe he'd take my dog. (Ouch. That's kinda like giving him my firstborn, but if you gotta pay, you gotta pay...)

Posted by: cmac on April 21, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

If this is her plan to get elected, do we now have a chicken in every plot?


Posted by: Ed Drone on April 21, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Of course liberals are against the idea. You don't have anything doctors want. How are you going to pay me for surgery? With coffee-stained IKEA couches, frayed backpacks, incense sticks, Joan Baez LPs and Guatemalan woven purses?

Lowden is speaking to the 80-90 percent of people in this country who aren't Democrats. They've got bartering resources. And the ER is always available for everyone, in case you forgot.

Posted by: Myke K on April 21, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Myke K makes me laugh.

That was really funny. 80-90%! Haw! Available for everyone! Wicked.

He should write for Colbert.

Posted by: biggerbox on April 21, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! The King Ranch in Texas is shor sit'n pretty - cows, chickens, oil wells and probably some exotic game. I bet they could keep a doctor/ranch hand on call what with all that barter'n power.

Posted by: CDW on April 21, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Blonde Republican Barbie-Doll, former "anchorwoman".

Throw a stick at Faux Snooze, you'll hit 30 of her.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 21, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this is the modern GOP's standard and reflexive response to any social problem or policy issue we face as a nation today - look back a century or two, and then do exactly that. And cut taxes. Even if these responses doesn't actually work, and won't solve the problem at hand.

And the GOP does this because any other policy response is ideologically and morally wrong (or would upset a major religious or corporate donor group) and just can't be considered at all.

This bartering-for-healthcare thing is just the latest and most extreme case of the GOP treating healthcare costs as a consumption issue ... of fat, lazy, spoiled Americans failing to buck up, think outside the box, and use the magic of the marketplace to deal with sky-high charges and insurance rates. Let's go 19th century!

Posted by: Bokonon on April 21, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

There are obvious benefits to doubling down on this idiotic proposal

Teabaggers love lame-brained ignorant policy prescriptions.

As with Palin's numerous snafus, brain farts, and fuck ups, the more liberal elites and bloggers make fun of it, the more batshit crazy white-wingers will rally to the idea.

Within a week or two some Republican member of congress will seriously propose that, as part of the Republican platform, all true conservatives should support a legislative agenda of repealing HCR and replacing it with "Barter for Care."

Fucksnooze will pick up the clarion call; Beck will diagram on his blackboard all the various ways that BFC is superior to the current law.

A few nutball doctors will begin accepting chickens and pigs from patients willing to swear fealty to the conservative cause while charging double for any patient who supported Obamacare. This will get lots of media attention.

George Stephanopolous will, with a straight face and somber demeanor, ask HHS secretary Sebelius to defend HCR against BFC on the merits.

A Rassmusen poll will show that 95 percent of teabaggers favor BFC over HCR. John McCain will go on MTP and cite the Rassmussen survey as he wonders why the President and the Democrat majority are ignoring the will of 95 percent of the American people. David Gregory will not challenge or fact-check McCain's assertions.

Because, Harry Reid is so inept and tone def to the needs of his base, he will lose to Sue Lowden. Republicans will trumpet this as a mandate to "Repeal and Replace."

For Lowden this is win-win.

Posted by: Winkandanod on April 21, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I raise chickens.
I'd be happy to offer a chicken to my doctor in return for say, a course of cancer treatment, or maybe a knee replacement.

But the Pfizer goons standing in her office handing out the free pens and calendars have different ideas.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

My stepfather's dad was a small town doctor and when he was practicing-- in the 40s and 50s-- and some of his poorer, rural clients did pay in chickens. But that is all those people had and in leiu of money that is what they "paid," although my stepdad says that if they didn't have chickens he often treated his poorest patients for free. It was pretty clear that the chickens weren't really payment as much as they were a way for people to thank him for treating them and for people to save face. This was also in an era when doctors made housecalls and it the non-monetary payments were for simple treatments-- not major surgery.

In other words do not arrive at the hospital with a truck full of chickens and expect to get your appendix removed. It's not going to happen.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on April 21, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I can see how this will play out...

Doctor: If you don't have this procedure, and soon, I'm afraid that you'll be dead in a year.
Patient: But I don't have insurance, and I can't afford to pay for the operation.
Doctor: Maybe you have something that you could trade...?
Patient: I have some chickens.
Doctor: Get serious.
Patient: Well, I could give you my car. It's only a few years old.
Doctor: I just bought a new car.
Patient: I don't really have anything of value, but I don't want to die!
Doctor: You do have something of value... I have a wealthy patient who needs a new kidney, and you have two. You only need one....

And so we institute a system whereby the poor people serve as parts factories for the wealthy. Excellent idea, Ms. Lowden!

Posted by: josef on April 21, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Why is this surprising? After all, she was already asking voters to send a turkey to the Senate.

Posted by: JimG on April 21, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Lowden's chickens for checkups has a viral video already. Techno dancing chickens included:


Posted by: CCinLV on April 21, 2010 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberals are opposed to bartering because most of them have nothing of value to trade. They want to trade my tax dollars for their health care."

Al, need I remind you for the umpteenth time that it is the red states who are dependent on DC for their survival and the blue states are the ones paying for it? That should tell you that the liberals are the ones with substance while the regressives are the ones who get the hand-outs. But then, maybe what you mean is that the only things the regressives have to pay with are the chickens running around in the back yard or the pig wallowing in the front yard.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on April 21, 2010 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

I've been to Nevada, and I haven't seen a lot of chickens..just sayin'...

Posted by: PonB on April 21, 2010 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Check out the Chickens for Checkups techno remix video! Thanks for the laughs Sue!


Posted by: CCinLV on April 22, 2010 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

"Liberals are opposed to bartering because most of them have nothing of value to trade. They want to trade my tax dollars for their health care."

I live south of the Mason-Dipshit line. I am up to my gills with good hard working republicans who have lotsa things of value to barter. For instance, in my parent's yard:

one broke down school bus full of worn bus parts for a different make bus,
one plastic above ground pool cracked by the sun and unusable,
several tillers that, if all working parts were combined, would make one half of one working tiller,
three flat bed trailers full of rotted lumber,
one immovable tractor,
three dogs of undetermined breed,
one 2 ton Chevrolet work truck that hasn't seen a day of work since it was towed into the front yard by a rusted chain,
one rusted chain,
and much much more.
Looks like conservatives in my state have the monopoly on valuable stuff.

Posted by: Zach on April 22, 2010 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

I was fine with paying for my medical procedures with chickens until one day when all I needed was an inexpensive lab test and I had to take the change home on a warm day.

The folks on the cross-town bus were NOT happy.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 22, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the person who said we should send Sue (& Tenn. Rep. Mike Bell, too) Lowden a chicken in support of her candidacy for Senate. Now, what's her address?.

Posted by: Dave Forte on April 23, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the person who said we should send Sue (& Tenn. Rep. Mike Bell, too) Lowden a chicken in support of her candidacy for Senate. Now, what's her address?.

Posted by: Dave Forte on April 23, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the person who said we should send Sue (& Tenn. Rep. Mike Bell, too) Lowden a chicken in support of her candidacy for Senate. Now, what's her address?.
(This is my first comment here.)

Posted by: Dave Forte on April 23, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, I wonder if my landlord would accept a bushel of zuccini, a slab of bacon, and scented candle for my rent next month.
I also wonder if doctors could then barter for their student loans, their insurance for their practice, their rent for their office, their medical equipment...
I wonder how much all their years of study is worth.
Come on Lowden,you may be able to afford thousands of chickens,bushels of vegetables, hundreds of sides of beef, but the rest of us real folk live here in reality, 2010!

Posted by: sue on April 25, 2010 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think that we must give Ms. Lowden a break, after all she was a former beauty queen. Perhaps a great quinella would be Ms. Lowden paired with the other beauty queen Ms. Palin. Dumb and Dumber.

Posted by: Anna on April 28, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds pretty reasonable to me dude.


Posted by: Jo Diggs on May 5, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

The New Jersey foot doctor is a seriously underappreciated individual. He provides a vital service that is taken for granted up until the moment when it is needed.

Posted by: foot doctor new jersey on May 6, 2010 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

I wrote an original, humorous song about Sue Lowden's chicken-based health care plan:


Whatever your political leanings are, it's worth checking out.

Posted by: Mason on May 27, 2010 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK



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