LEWISTON -- Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador's recent comment that no one dies from lack of access to medical care continues to spark outrage nationwide.
The congressman's answer came during a Friday town hall in Lewiston, one day after he voted to pass a Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
A woman in the audience asked Labrador to explain how Idaho taxpayers will pay for the increase in indigent care costs that she said will accompany a massive Medicaid cuts proposed under the plan, and what will happen to the people who can no longer afford to go to the doctor.
"When (Idahoans) get sick, they're going to get sicker because they don't have primary care, they don't have preventative care," the audience member argued. "They're going to lose their jobs, they're going to lose their homes and they're going to end up with a $10,000 ICU stay for what could have been a $35 primary care visit and $5 worth of penicillin."
During Labrador's answer, the woman cut in again.
"You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying," she said.
"That line is so indefensible," Labrador responded. "Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care."
The answer drew immediate boos and anger from the Lewiston crowd, and has drawn national attention.
Over the weekend, Labrador sought to clarify his remarks, saying his response Friday "wasn’t very elegant."
"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 wrote in a statement on Facebook. "In a lengthy exchange with a constituent, I explained to her that Obamacare has failed the vast majority of Americans. In the five-second clip that the media is focusing on, I was trying 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 linked to a video of the exchange, watchable here. His answer comes at the end of the seven-minute clip.
The Republicans' health care plan will now go before the Senate, where it is expected to undergo changes.
NBC News reports the Republicans' plan was sent to the House floor without an updated accounting of the new plan's cost or impact. Under a previous assessment by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office - released before the bill was altered - 24 million people would lose insurance, it would save $300 million and premiums would go down ten percent after ten years.
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