Alternative facts: Health care doesn’t save lives.
A Republican congressman in Idaho told angry constituents at a town hall that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care” — sparking an immediate uproar from nearly everyone in the room.
Rep. Raul Labrador held the event the day after he and 216 other Republicans in the House voted to approve a beleaguered bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The bill has faced universal opposition from insurers and health organizations, and the Congressional Budget Office estimated that an earlier version of it would rob 24 million Americans of health care.
One of its most drastic changes would be $ 880 billion in Medicaid cuts to allow states to determine how much they want to invest in the program.
A woman at Labrador’s Lewiston town hall pushed him on that point, telling him the bill is “mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying.”
“No one wants anybody to die,” Labrador replied.
“That line is so indefensible — nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
Shouts and boos overwhelmed the room as soon as he said that.
Labrador later tried to walk back his comment, writing on Facebook that he 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 his answer “wasn’t very elegant.”
Congressional Republicans across the country faced furious constituents at town halls after the House rushed to approve a bill that some members admitted to not even reading.
Labrador’s alternative facts about Medicaid presaged defenses that GOP leaders would roll out over the weekend.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Health Secretary Tom Price both argued in Sunday talk show appearances that the $ 880 billion Medicaid cuts would somehow bring no detriment to coverage and might even be beneficial.
The CBO report on the original bill said Medicaid cuts alone would wipe out coverage for 14 million people. An estimate for the revised bill is unknown because the House voted before the budget office could review it.