GOP congressman Jason Chaffetz appeared on CNN’s “New Day” to discuss the details of the House Republicans’ proposed Affordable Care Act replacement during which he made an insulting comment directed at low-income families.
The word that President Donald Trump and the GOP keep throwing around in the conversation about health care is “access.” They keep saying that their alternative to Obamacare will allow Americans to have access to health care but as we all know, having access isn’t the underlying issue — it’s the lack of affordability.
“New Day” host Alisyn Camerota noted during the interview with Chaffetz, “Access for lower income Americans doesn’t equal coverage,” which triggered Chaffetz's tone-deaf response.
“We’re getting rid of the individual mandate. We’re getting rid of those things that people said they don’t want. And you know what? Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.”
GOP Rep. Chaffetz: Americans may need to choose between "new iphone... they just love" and investing in health care https://t.co/5Hxwn2uOl5— New Day (@NewDay) March 7, 2017
Chaffetz is currently the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and was recently scrutinized by his own constituents during a town hall in Utah for failing to investigate Trump’s conflicts of interest, among other things. With that in mind, anything he says should be taken with a grain of salt, but still, how dare he make such egregious remarks?
Does he truly believe that low-income families value iPhones above their health care?
Furthermore, it’s ridiculous to suggest that people must choose between coverage and other expenses at all when health care should be accessible and affordable to all Americans, regardless of economic status, in the first place.
Additionally, many on Twitter pointed out how the cost of health care and the cost of an iPhone are so drastically different that making such a “sacrifice” would not make a difference in whether people with lower incomes can afford coverage — further proving the absurdity of Chaffetz’s analogy.
Price of a new iPhone: $649— Freddie Campion (@FreddieCampion) March 7, 2017
Average cost of healthcare for one year: $10,345
I'm not seeing how that would help, but K https://t.co/SksVGJkIwY
Jason Chaffetz doesn't know:— Schooley (@Rschooley) March 7, 2017
•What healthcare costs
•What an iPhone costs
Oh, wait I forgot to make this a poll.
I would have to give up my habit of buying an iPhone every single month to get healthcare.— Stephen Toulouse (@Stepto) March 7, 2017
Funny. I don't have an iPhone. Still can't afford proper healthcare. Idjit. https://t.co/BHP7HAso8A— kaloethina (@kaloethina) March 7, 2017
My broken ankle cost $117,000 so that's around 234 iPhones @jasoninthehouse.— roxane gay (@rgay) March 7, 2017
Chaffetz's comments were also rebuked by other members of Congress including Rep. Larry Bucschon (R-Indiana) who said the remarks were “unwarranted at this time,” CNN reports.
“We don't want people to make choices in their life having to choose health care and leaving out other parts of their life that everyone else enjoys,” Bucshon said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) also chimed in with a tweet that denounced Chaffetz statements as “offensive and show a lack of both understanding and compassion.”
Jason Chaffetz’s comments are offensive and show a lack of both understanding and compassion. https://t.co/cFGS1JXgjn— Team Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) March 7, 2017
After facing backlash, Chaffetz later backtracked his remarks. He admitted that he didn’t convey his point “as smoothly" as he could have, but maintained his argument that Americans have to better prioritize their health care spending.
“What we're trying to say — and maybe I didn't say it as smoothly as I possibly could — but people need to make a conscious choice and I believe in self-reliance," he clarified on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "And they're going to have to make those decisions."
All of this talk from a man whose own health care is subsidized by hardworking taxpayers, as Esquire notes.
Needless to say, that poor excuse for damage control didn’t help much. The fact remains, the Republicans’ new plan is set to make life more difficult for low-income families — and they couldn’t care less.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Gary Cameron