An Idaho congressman who voted for the recently-passed Trumpcare legislation sparked an uproar at a town hall last Friday, when he snapped at one of his constituents that lack of health care access has never killed anyone.
A woman accused Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) of forcing Medicaid patients to “accept death” by voting for the bill, which cuts $880 billion from the program while also giving wealthy Americans a $594 billion tax cut.
“That line is indefensible,” Labrador retorted, interrupting her. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
The comment sparked a deafening howl of outrage from his voters. The full encounter can be seen here:
Multiple scientific studies have found that the uninsured have drastically higher mortality rates than those with insurance. An oft-cited 2009 study in particular found that uninsured Americans have a 25% higher risk of death than insured Americans, and another study concluded that hospitalized children have a 60% higher mortality rate if they are uninsured.
“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Andrew Wilper. “We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease — but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”
Wilper’s study estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess American deaths every year.
As of 2015, America’s uninsured rate had fallen to its lowest point in 50 years thanks to Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the first version of Trumpcare, by contrast, would cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance by 2026. The current iteration was hurriedly passed through the House on Thursday before the CBO had a chance to analyze it.
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW