Lowden says Reid behind flap over ‘barter’ remarks
RENO – U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden said Thursday that Harry Reid is trying to make her look bad over remarks suggesting a return to the barter system with doctors.
“Harry Reid is trying to change the subject from his 2,700 pages of government-run health care,” she said after a breakfast meeting in Reno.
Lowden became a top story nationwide last week after Democratic Party figures, cable news shows, bloggers and even Jay Leno ridiculed her so-called “Chickens for Checkups” plan.
The subject of bartering was raised during a town meeting in Mesquite after she was asked what her health care plan would look like if she was in the Senate.
She told the audience in Mesquite her plan would include allowing the purchase of coverage across state lines, more options for buying coverage without the mandates in the bill as well as lifting limits on health savings accounts.
Then, she added: “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.”
Lowden elaborated on her statements in an appearance Monday on “Nevada Newsmakers,” saying: “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.”
Lowden said despite the flap over her bartering comments, doctors in rural areas have long done just that – trading treatment for goods and other services that patients can provide.
“When you don’t have government in between you and your health care, you can negotiate – it was in that context,” she said Thursday, adding that the audience understood what she meant.
Lowden’s comments thrust her onto the national media scene. Democrats, with TV crews in tow, tried to deliver a goat and chickens to her Las Vegas office. Hundreds of bloggers are cracking chicken jokes, and Jay Leno, in a monologue now posted on YouTube, asked what patients would do if “their doctor isn’t Amish.”
Lowden told the audience of about 50 people at the Nevada Business Connections monthly meeting she expects the next month to be filled with negative attacks on her.
“I have all my opponents attacking me and I have Harry Reid attacking me,” she said. “Why? Because he doesn’t want me coming out of this primary.”
Lowden touted her business background to the audience, saying she and her husband Paul have extensive experience in making tough business decisions for themselves and as many as 5,000 employees. She said she isn’t a career politician.
“This is the first time I’ve been on a statewide ballot because I’ve been in the private sector,” she said.
The Lowdens have owned and operated several casinos over the years. She served a term in the Nevada Senate in the 1990s.
Asked about Rep. Dean Heller’s push to require that Congress be subject to any legislation it passes, she said she would “absolutely be for that.”
She said her first move in Washington, D.C., would be to begin reducing the debt by cutting congressional salaries and chop back spending in every federal agency, including by reducing every federal salary.
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