Low-income Americans might soon be faced with a tough choice, if House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz is to be believed: Would they rather have health coverage or an iPhone?
During a Tuesday morning interview on CNN's New Day to discuss the recently unveiled GOP bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, Chaffetz implied that Americans who wouldn't be able to afford insurance under the new plan would only have themselves to blame, and said that those individuals would need to make sacrifices for their health.
"Well, we're getting rid of the individual mandate," Chaffetz told CNN. "We're getting rid of those things that people said that 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, maybe they should invest in their own health care."
"They've got to make those decisions themselves," he added.
As the Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham pointed out, however, Chaffetz's math doesn't quite add up: A new iPhone with no contract costs around $670, while the median health care cost per capita is $10,345.
The suggestion that low-income Americans are financially strapped because of their own frivolous spending habits is nothing new, however, and media types were quick to call Chaffetz out on Twitter.
A draft of the Republican health care bill, introduced on Monday, would replace the individual mandate set up by former President Barack Obama with tax credits and reduce Medicaid coverage, both of which would "clearly result in fewer people insured than under the [Affordable Care Act]," Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told CNN.
"The House GOP proposal seeks to reduce what the federal government spends on health care, and that inevitably means more people uninsured," Levitt said.
Later, during an interview on FOX News, Chaffetz appeared to try and walk back his comments, saying that he didn't make his point as "smoothly" as he could have.