GOP House member walks back remark that ‘nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care’

Gabby Kaufman
Reporter

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, over the weekend walked back a quip on health care he conceded “wasn’t very elegant.”

Labrador had claimed during a Friday town hall that people don’t die because of health care access. He made the comments during a testy exchange with an attendee who questioned Labrador’s vote for the House GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Are you going to mandate that regions reduce their rates?” the attendee asked.

“I don’t mandate anything,” Labrador responded.

“You are mandating people on Medicaid [to] accept dying!”

“No one wants anybody to die,” he said. “You know, that line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

Labrador’s defense was immediately silenced by boos and objections.

After the comments caught fire, Labrador posted a clarifying statement on Facebook saying his remark was an attempt “to explain that all hospitals are required by law to treat patients in need of emergency care regardless of their ability to pay and that the Republican plan does not change that.” Labrador also tried to deflect criticism by pointing out that the back-and-forth picked up came at the end of a longer exchange, which he posted in full.

Labrador voted for the American Health Care Act on Thursday, and it passed the House by just four votes. The congressman is a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, which helped tank the bill in its original form in March. It was reintroduced late last month after some modifications, apparently swaying many moderate and hardline conservatives to support it.

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