Republican Congressman Raul Labrador came under fire after he told angry constituents that "nobody dies" from a lack of health care coverage at a town hall at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.
Labrador made the remarks the day after the House passed a Republican-sponsored health care bill that, if passed in the Senate, would repeal and replace Obamacare but would also leave millions of American without health insurance.
The congressman, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was addressing an audience member's concerns about the American Health Care Act's potential impact on Medicaid recipients when he made the shocking remark.
“You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying,” the woman said.
Labrador responded by claiming “that line is so indefensible."
“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” he continued, drawing loud jeers from the audience.
The boos instantly drowned him out.
“It absolutely kills people. You don’t know what you’re talking about,” the woman, who later identified herself as an emergency room nurse, replied. “You should sit in ER waiting rooms and explain to people that their children are going to die because they can’t afford insurance.”
This time, the auditorium erupted in applause.
The congressman might be unaware, but according to a 2009 Harvard study, some 45,000 Americans died annually due to their lack of health insurance before Affordable Care Act became law.
Meanwhile, the backlash carried over to the internet too, where a number of social media users lambasted the Republican.
Idaho residents on Twitter and Facebook referred to the congressman as ignorant and naive, while many cried hypocrisy and pointed out that lawmakers, like Labrador, had recently voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which exempted those lawmakers from its provisions.
Labrador was similarly criticized at another town hall last month, when he said health care is not a "basic human right."