Idaho congressman Raul Labrador is facing the ire of his constituents over his vote in favor of the Republican health care bill this week. During a Friday morning town hall, Labrador refuted a voter’s claim that losing health insurance is a death sentence. ““That line is so indefensible,” Labrador said. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
Research has consistently linked being uninsured to higher mortality rates. One example in Labrador’s district: 36-year-old Idaho Falls resident Jenny Steinke, who died of an asthma attack in 2015 after being unable to treat her condition due to a lack of insurance.
Meanwhile, in upstate New York, protesters crowded into a town hall on Saturday morning, greeting Republican congressman Tom Reed—who voted for the bill along with 216 colleagues—with signs that read “No conscience no heart.”
Some supporters of the American Health Care Act aren’t doing themselves any favors. New York congressman Chris Collins admitted on Thursday that he had not fully read the bill before voting for it
“I could probably tell you that I read every word, and I wouldn’t be telling you the truth, nor would any other member,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We rely on our staff, and we rely on our committees, and I’m comfortable that I understand this bill in its entirety, Wolf, without poring through every word.”
Collins’ staff didn’t exactly bring him up to speed. When confronted by the Buffalo News about the AHCA’s elimination of an Obamacare program that provides coverage to low- and middle-income residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid, Collins replied: “Explain that to me.”
The program, known as the Essential Health Plan, is only available in Minnesota and New York. In the Empire State, 635,000 people rely on it for health insurance, and ending the plan would result in a loss of $3 billion in annual federal funding.
The Senate has yet to schedule a vote on the AHCA, and will probably spend months crafting its own bill. The list of 13 senators working on the bill includes zero women or people of color.