Rep. Raul Labrador, (R-ID) in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
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GOP rep says ‘nobody dies’ from lacking access to health care

On Thursday, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) was one of 217 House Republicans who voted for their party’s far-right health care plan. On Friday, the GOP congressman hosted a town hall meeting at Lewis-Clark State College, where Labrador tried to defend what he’d done.

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As the Washington Post’s report noted, one of the Idaho Republican’s constituents reminded Labrador that many Medicaid recipients would lose their coverage, and possibly even their lives, as a result of the proposal. The GOP lawmaker was unimpressed.
“That line is so indefensible,” said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a member of the influential House Freedom Caucus. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

The boos instantly drowned him out.
Whether Labrador knew he was being recorded or not, the exchange was captured on video.

He later conceded in a statement that his comment “wasn’t very elegant,” which is true, though it’s a realization he made a day too late.

To the extent that reality still has any bearing in this debate, the Republican proposal would end coverage for tens of millions of Americans, and while it’s impossible to know exactly how many of those people would die, the Huffington Post noted, “[P]rior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, the landmark law commonly known as Obamacare, some 45,000 Americans died annually due to their lack of health insurance, according to a 2009 Harvard study.”

The Post’s report added, “According to another 2009 study by the Institute of Medicine, people without health care are more likely to die if diagnosed with illnesses, such as cancer, congestive heart failure, diabetes and heart attack, among others.”

In other words, there’s nothing “indefensible” about the question at all. It may sound over-dramatic, and it may make Republicans uncomfortable, but the GOP legislation, if implemented, would end access to health care for many Americans – and people really do die if they lack access to health care.

Complicating matters, of course ,is the political angle to Labrador’s “inelegant” retort. The Atlantic’s David Frum “congratulated” the Idaho Republican for becoming the future star of “a thousand Democratic campaign ads.”

He’ll at least have some company. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) said Americans may need to move if they intend to keep their health care benefits; Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said those same Americans should pay more in order to help those who “lead good lives” and behave “the right way”; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said we’ll all be able to afford coverage without the Affordable Care Act if we give up “getting that new iPhone.”

They’ll no doubt star in Democratic ads, too.

Republicans wrote an obscene bill, passed it in a ridiculous way, and have tried to defend it with some of the most absurd rhetoric imaginable.  It’s not exactly a recipe for success.

Health Care, House Republicans and Raul Labrador

GOP rep says 'nobody dies' from lacking access to health care