Geoff Dornan

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April 23, 2010
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Doctor defends Lowden's barter comments

Dr. Robin Titus, who practices medicine in Smith Valley, said Thursday the criticism of Sue Lowden for saying the government should get out of the way so patients can negotiate with providers for health care is ridiculous.

Lowden has been ridiculed for suggesting people could negotiate with doctors, perhaps trading a chicken or some other product or service for care. Opponents have called it "chickens for checkups."

"She made an innocent comment in Mesquite," Titus said. "It's something America has done for hundreds of years."

Titus said she has received hay, horseshoeing, even a bathtub in exchange for health care services to patients in the Smith Valley area.

She said people still barter when they go to buy a car, a home and other things and she sees the practice in the health care industry - particularly for cosmetic surgery which health insurers mostly won't cover.

"So they talk to their doctor about what the cost is going to be and negotiate a price," she said.

Titus said part of the problem is that Medicare and Medicaid set the ground rules for much of what care is provided in the U.S. and the price of that care.

"When you have managed health care, prices are fixed," she said, adding that the practice of negotiating with providers could be expanded if the government gets out of the way.

She said the audience in Mesquite understood what Lowden was saying and that her opponents have blown it out of proportion.

"There are real issues in the world today. We need to focus on those. This is ridiculous," she said.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Apr 23, 2010 08:09PM Published Apr 23, 2010 08:08PM Copyright 2010 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.