Letters to the Editor

Letter writers react to Labrador health care comments at town hall

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.

Editor’s Note: Here’s what we’ve heard from our readers in Letters to the Editor about Rep. Raul Labrador’s recent comments about health care at one of his town halls: “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care” (Labrador later elaborated in a statement). No letters, to date, have been in support of Labrador’s stance.

Lester letter: Vote him out

The most recent statements from Raul Labrador prove him to be either heartless, ignorant or both. At his own town meetings recently he said that health care is not a right and that no one dies because of a lack of healthcare coverage. What a ridiculous thing for a member of the Congress to say. The draconian policies that this guy supports would leave millions of people without health insurance. Maybe he should go without healthcare coverage for awhile and then he might have the right to tell the rest of us that we can go without it too. The people of Idaho deserve much better in their elected officials. This person is a disgrace and an embarrassment. Vote him out of office.

Linda Lester, Boise

Hawkins letter: Taking crowbar to health care

Raul Labrador voted to strip health care from 24 million people, while handing $600 billion in tax breaks to the super rich and corporations.

This is not an example of a representative representing his constituents, it is rather the opposite.

The people of Idaho need our representatives to “Close the Gap,” , but Mr. Labrador instead is taking a crowbar to it.

It is time for Idahoans to insist on being represented. It is time to give notice that we are paying attention, and our representatives need to listen to us, not their corporate donors.

Jeff Hawkins, Boise

Martinson letter: Not ‘Pro-Life’

Raul Labrador recently has shown his true colors as to his “Pro Life” beliefs.

He said, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” He also has said that health care is not a basic human right.

So to sum it up, he is 1) Pro death penalty. 2) Pro guns. 3) Pro war. And he is against health care for all Americans. Sorry, Raul, this is not my idea of Pro Life.

Melvin Martinson, Boise

Mering letter: Patients do die

This is in response to Raul Labrador stating “No one dies because of lack of health care.” I do not live in Labrador’s district and he will likely ignore anything I say to him, so this letter. I have practiced medicine in Idaho for 27 years. Twenty two years was spent working at a community clinic where 65 percent of our patients did not have insurance. The list is long but patients died and had serious consequences because they did not have health insurance, thus access to care. If you do not pass the “wallet biopsy” you do not get past the front desk. Here is a short list: 55 year old lady with severe heart disease from damaged valve from Rheumatic fever; all appointments denied, 37 year old female who we diagnosed with vaginal cancer on biopsy who four surgeons would not see. I got her an appointment at University of Washington. I think she lived. Hundreds of people who could not afford screening for breast and colon cancer, some ended up with bad disease which could have been caught early. Hundreds with diabetes and hypertension who end up with heart disease and serious kidney disease. These are only a few.

Mark Mering, M.D., Boise

Mollerup letter: Dire financial consequences

Rep. Raul Labrador’s suggestion that people rely on emergency rooms for immediate care takes us back to the bad old days — ignoring symptoms and avoiding getting treatment or getting the necessary treatment and facing potential bankruptcy. In addition to the life and death consequences of this model are the less-often discussed financial consequence that have been significantly alleviated as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

According to an article written by Allen St. John (May 2) and data from the American Bankruptcy Institute, bankruptcies filings have dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016, the same time frame when the ACA took effect. And although courts do not ask people to declare the reason they are filing, medical bills are seen by most legal experts as the leading cause for most personal bankruptcies.

As I listen to the contorted explanations of Rep. Labrador and his colleagues, it becomes clear to me that the accomplishments of the House-passed AHCA bill aren’t better health care coverage, getting more people coverage, or lowering costs. What the AHCA really does accomplish though, is to take hundreds of billions of dollars away from health care that can then be used to support large tax cuts.

Chuck Mollerup, Boise

Norden letter: Irrational and cruel

Raul Labrador’s nonchalant denial of human casualties notwithstanding, his Lewiston town-hall defense of the GOP’s hastily revised repeal of the Affordable Care Act exposes the fundamental irrationality and cruelty of Republican approaches to health care, and to public policy generally.

Faced with solidly researched data presented by health care professionals and others, Labrador suggested that Americans with preexisting conditions or too poor to afford health care are the new welfare queens. People with cancer, kids with birth defects, and seniors unable to pay extortionately high prices for prescription medicines are all waiting to pick the pockets of good, hard-working Americans.

This sounds stupid, cruel, and irrational because it is. Perhaps the most deeply-held remaining GOP orthodoxy has to do with rejecting socialism, no matter the economic or human costs. Regardless of how badly free-market capitalism fails to meet the needs of American citizens, it must always be the best solution.

In this case, the eminently logical solution is single-payer (or Medicare-For-All) health care at half the cost we now pay per person. Instead, Labrador insist that taxpayers continue to subsidize a parasitic insurance “industry” whose profit derives from denying care to as many people as possible.

Chris Norden, Moscow

Olson letter: Callous attitude

Rep. Labrador’s ignorant words “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care” clearly display Republicans’ callous attitude toward health care for vulnerable populations. This misinformed rhetoric could actually lead to many deaths … a 2009 Harvard study, prior to Obamacare, showed that on average more than 45,000 Americans died annually from lack of affordable health care. Many died of diseases detected in late stages because they could not afford preventative care. Those are the facts. To all of the Republicans who supported the House bill, your heartless actions may result in a tragic outcome for thousands of Americans who find themselves without affordable health care. You need to own up to what the House health care bill really is: a huge tax break for wealthy Americans, a $800 million cut in Medicaid which will likely gut coverage for lower income Americans, including thousands in Idaho, and the loss of affordable insurance for millions of Americans who have preexisting conditions. Experts strongly argue that the modest amount of money set aside for high risk insurance pools for those with preexisting conditions, will be inadequate. Please stop lying about what your callous vision of health care could mean for Americans.

Beverly Olson, Boise

Sandhu letter: People will die

First, one survives cancer by early detection for a better prognosis. Second, once detected one will need proper treatment and follow up. Third, if you are lucky enough to survive the first bout, you need regular check ups to make sure it doesn’t return.

Before the ACA, millions did not get this kind of care. Their only option was to go to the emergency room. But the emergency room is just that — for emergencies — not preventative and not continuous care. And it’s not free. Someone will pay whether it’s the patient or the rest of us.

To say as Rep. Raul Labrador did that ‘no one has died because they don’t have access to healthcare’ is a lie. Use of the word ‘access’ is deceitful. Yes, everyone has access if they can afford it. But in reality, with your version of (un)mandated government healthcare, people will die and it will be on Republicans’ hands.

The two truths are not Death and Taxes. They are Illness and Death. The question is will you die sooner because you don’t have enough money or later because you do.

Nimala Sandhu, Boise

Slotkin letter: Remove him from office

People of Idaho, it’s a long time until November 2018, so we need to be sure we don’t forget the callous and cavalier attitudes of Raul Labrador when it comes to health care. As a Congressman vested in a health care system far better than any available to us, the people, he says that health care is not a right. As a person who will never need to worry about care for himself or his family, he says that no one has ever died from lack of access to health care. He’s willing to apply these dicta to you, but not to himself. He is a hypocrite. Come 2018, we in Idaho who care about the health of our neighbors and who don’t want to see people die from the poorly conceived legislation that Labrador and others rushed through the House must rise up and remove him from office. He may represent his party, the insurance companies, and the wealthy who will become even more so thanks to the tax cuts this bill embodies, but he definitely does not represent the best interests of the ordinary citizen of Idaho. Never forget. Resist.

Alan Slotkin, Eagle

Smith letter: True Labrador emerging

Thank goodness Labrador is participating in these town hall meetings of late. His true colors are emerging with almost everything he says, showing us how conservative he really is. That every American should have health insurance is “not” a right. And now, reproduced in the Statesman column of May 7th, that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Raul shows us his lack of intelligence and how non-Christian he can be. This brings up two observations: that not all lawyers are intelligent and that not all Christians are “conservative.” Hopefully these statements and many others Labrador has made, will open some Idaho voters’ eyes to who he really is and how he continues to harm and embarrass all of Idaho.

Richard Smith, Boise

Stauffer letter: Stubborn beyond reason

Raul Labrador is, clearly, not ignorant or uninformed. He is stubborn beyond reason. I am an RN at St. Alphonsus. In the very first day of my ICU clinical experience as a nursing student, I saw the devastating effects of inadequate health insurance in real life. I helped take care of a working (employed at one of the big box national retailers), insured middle aged woman who had not been using her scheduled inhalers on a regular basis for a few months because she couldn’t afford them. This led to an emergency room admission (of course she was treated, this is not the issue either) but by that time, it was too late for her. She was on a ventilator and not expected to make it when I met her. Scenarios like this one are repeated countless times daily across the United States.

Gayle Stauffer, Boise