Arrow-right Camera

Eye On Boise

Mon., May 8, 2017, 7 a.m.

Labrador, facing national ridicule over health care comment, says it ‘wasn’t very elegant’

U.S. Rep.  Raul Labrador keeps a calm demeanor as he answers a question even with boos from the crowd at Lewis-Clark State College on Friday, May 5, 2017, in Lewiston. One comment, though, in which the congressman suggest that nobody  dies because of lack of access to health care, prompted an especially fierce backlash over the weekend. (Kyle Mills / Lewiston Tribune)
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador keeps a calm demeanor as he answers a question even with boos from the crowd at Lewis-Clark State College on Friday, May 5, 2017, in Lewiston. One comment, though, in which the congressman suggest that nobody dies because of lack of access to health care, prompted an especially fierce backlash over the weekend. (Kyle Mills / Lewiston Tribune)

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, who drew national ridicule over the weekend for his comment at a Lewiston town hall on Friday that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” issued a statement on Facebook over the weekend saying his comment “wasn’t very elegant” and claiming that it was taken out of context. Labrador also released a seven-minute video of the exchange; you can watch it here. His comment comes at the end of the exchange.

In his statement, Labrador said, “I was responding to a false notion that the Republican health care plan will cause people to die in the streets, which I completely reject.” He said he was referring to a longstanding federal law that requires hospital emergency rooms to treat anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. But an array of medical experts and studies show people without access to health care are more likely to die, including in Idaho, largely because those who are uninsured don’t seek care earlier, when their conditions are treatable.

Labrador said the media is focusing on “a five-second clip” in which he responded to the woman’s claims that he’s “mandating people on Medicaid accept dying” by saying: “That line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

The Idaho Statesman has a full report here on Labrador’s statement over the weekend; and reports here and here on the original comment in Lewiston.

Meanwhile, Labrador also held a packed town hall meeting in Coeur d’Alene on Friday evening that drew more than 500 people. There, facing a largely skeptical crowd, he defended his vote for the Republican health care bill. You can read our full report here.

All this comes as Labrador has been widely rumored to be planning to announce his candidacy for governor of Idaho this week, something he’s long been opening considering.




You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Eye On Boise
Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: