State Politics

Rep. Labrador’s health care comment makes Politifact readers’ top 10 lies of 2017

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador says "nobody dies because they don't have access to health care"

On May 5, Congressman Raul Labrador told a crowd at a town hall in Lewiston that lack of access to health care doesn't kill people. The crowd erupted in boos and gasps.
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On May 5, Congressman Raul Labrador told a crowd at a town hall in Lewiston that lack of access to health care doesn't kill people. The crowd erupted in boos and gasps.

Readers of PolitiFact — the fact-checking website known for its “Truth-O-Meter” ratings — have voted a statement made by U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador at a town hall in May as the second-most-significant “lie of the year.”

Meeting with constituents in Lewiston, Labrador responded to a woman who suggested that lack of health care was essentially condemning people to die.

“That line is so indefensible,” Labrador said. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

Video of the exchange drew nationwide attention, and some Idaho health care professionals pushed back at his statement.

Labrador conceded that the line “wasn’t very elegant,” but said media focused on “a five-second clip” and took his comment out of context. Here’s his full statement and a video that Labrador’s office linked to for “the full exchange.”

raul statement town hall
Rep. Raul Labrador posted this statement on Facebook in response to criticism over a comment he made at a town hall in Lewiston last May. Rep. Raul Labrador via Facebook

PolitiFact earlier this year examined the initial reporting on the quote and Labrador’s response, and rated the statement “pants on fire,” the worst rating on its accuracy scale.

The quote apparently still has national resonance. In the poll, which PolitiFact said received more than 5,000 responses, it was still a distant second to President Donald Trump calling accusations of his campaign colluding with Russia “a made-up story.” That statement garnered more than half the vote from poll respondents (56.36 percent).

Labrador’s 14.47 percent of the poll was followed closely by former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s insistence that Trump’s inauguration was the most widely attended in history (14.25 percent).

Statements from the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Tucker Carlson, and Maxine Waters, earned less than 4 percent of votes each to round out the list.

PolitiFact reports that this is the ninth year it has published the poll.

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