During a $250 a plate luncheon on March 19th in Natchitoches, Louisiana, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R- LA-05) claimed that rising healthcare costs are the result of the economically disadvantaged caring more about “voting for a living instead of working for a living,” according to an audio recording provided exclusively to the Bayou Brief.
Abraham, a medical doctor who ran a rural clinic in Mangham, Louisiana prior to his election to Congress, had been fielding questions during a fundraiser for his gubernatorial campaign when a supporter asserted an elaborate conspiracy theory as if it were fact, telling Abraham that $150 million of the $800 million spent on Medicaid expansion in Louisiana was “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Both of those numbers are wildly inaccurate, and neither were corrected by the congressman, who instead rambled extemporaneously for three minutes about healthcare policy and struggled to get basic facts right.
At one point, Abraham falsely claimed that Medicaid expansion resulted in people being forced to relinquish their employer-provided private insurance plans. “They were mandated to go to the expansion,” Abraham asserted. The program does no such thing.
At another point, he conflated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which was signed into law in 1986 by Ronald Reagan, with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the landmark 2010 law often derided by conservatives as Obamacare.
In an effort at diagnosing the problem, the doctor misidentified the symptoms and instead shifted the blame for the escalating costs of healthcare on the working poor in comments that echo similar remarks also made at a closed door fundraiser by presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.
“I’m just tired of people voting for a living instead of working for a living,” Abraham said, “because if they’re on that program of the government- and it could be a state or a federal program- what are they going to do? They’re going to vote to keep that program going.”
Expanding Medicaid has been a top priority for Governor John Bel Edwards (D. LA) and we can’t let the GOP stop him from making this a reality. Click here to donate and get involved with Bel Edwards’ re-election campaign.