Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I Want to Know Is, What's the Chicken-Squirrel Exchange Rate?

So, the person who will almost certainly defeat Harry Reid and represent Nevada in the US Senate said this:

"Let's change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I'm telling you that this works. 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."

... yes, because Wellpoint will be more than happy to negotiate payment-in-kind for your insurance. Pharmaceutical companies are just eager and willing to give people their medicines and let them "work off" what they owe. And hospitals, now for the most part run by for-profit corporations, are ready and willing to take payment for your stay and surgery in livestock.

And then the Nevada Republican Party DEFENDS this woman:

Although the party is officially neutral in the primary between Lowden, former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian and former state Rep. Sharron Angle, Nevada GOP communications director Ciara Turns nevertheless offered a vigorous defense of Lowden's statements, and condemned the Democrats for the way that Lowden is being attacked.

"Well it's pretty clear that they're attacking the way she conveyed her message because they can't attack her message," said Turns. "Her message is pretty clear. She was clearly trying to make the point that if we moved away from an insurance-based system and more people started paying cash for their health care, then prices would come down. But they don't want to address that. The left doesn't, Harry Reid's campaign doesn't want to address that, because it's a legitimate point that they can't argue. And so they've decided to go after the way she delivered her message instead of the substance of it."

Um, NO. The whole point of bringing in barter is, health care has become too expensive for the average person to pay cash. It's also become much too complicated and networked for any patient to negotiate fees and payment with all the many people- primary care doctor, specialist, lab technicians, pharmaceuticals, hospital corporations, clerical workers- that might be involved in their treatment.

But this is just one wingnut, right? Right?


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 core of the Republican position is this: if you're too poor to pay cash for your health, you should only get whatever health care you can pay for in barter.

Now, I for one would be quite happy to see for-profit insurance corporations outlawed. I believe insurance is a confidence scheme made legal- you pay for a policy, and then the person who sold you the policy seeks any excuse imaginable not to pay you if you try to collect on it.

But the end of insurance has to be replaced with some workable system- otherwise everything goes crash. Doctors go bankrupt. Hospitals close. Health care at all levels suddenly becomes much more scarce- and thus much more expensive, as demand spikes above supply.

But Republicans, being rich enough to pay cash for their health care, don't care. After all, if you're too poor to pay a doctor it must be your own fault, riiiiiight?

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