BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador says his answer to a question on health care at a recent town hall in northern Idaho wasn't very elegant.
Labrador has received criticism for his comment Friday that no one has died because they didn't have access to health care — a claim disputed by medical experts because they counter that patients without health coverage often risk waiting until their conditions have advanced too far for effective treatment.
On Saturday, the Republican congressman released a statement to address the backlash received by his comment a day earlier at a packed town hall in Lewiston.
"During ten hours of town halls, one of my answers about health care wasn't very elegant," Labrador said in the statement. "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."
During the Lewiston event, Labrador was drowned by boos and gasps after a woman, who stood up to ask him a question, said that the health care plan passed last week by the House requires that "people on Medicaid accept dying."
"That line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care," Labrador responded.
Labrador voted in favor of the bill.
In his statement issued Saturday, Labrador criticized the media for not focusing on his entire response to the question, adding that hospitals are still required to treat people in need of emergency care regardless if they can pay.
Labrador has repeatedly stated at recent town halls that he does not believe health care is a basic human right.
He has long been considered a potential candidate for governor in 2018 but has yet to announce whether he's running.