Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Tuesday morning said that lower-income people who may be left uninsured under the Obamacare replacement plan will have to choose between buying a new iPhone and affording health care.
In an interview on CNN, Chaffetz, who is also the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was asked if the new plan — if it became law — could leave working-class or low-income people without insurance.
“Americans have choices. And they've got to make a choice,” Chaffetz said.
“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.”
Chaffetz added that the replacement plan, dubbed the American Healthcare Act, will preserve certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act that Republicans “really do like,” such as the ban on denying coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions and allowing people to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
As a member of Congress, Chaffetz has access to government health care. He also appears to have an Apple Watch, which would mean he likely has an iPhone.
Hours later, Chaffetz appeared on Fox News to discuss his iPhone comment, saying, "Maybe I didn't say it as smoothly as I could."
"People need to make a responsible choice and I believe in self-reliance," he said.
Fox News anchor Shannon Bream responded, "The phones are expensive. So are shoes."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Chaffetz’s office for comment.
Chaffetz's comments were quickly ridiculed on Twitter:
Watch Chaffetz’s comments here.
Responding to Chaffetz’s comments, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price asserted during a White House press conference Tuesday that people were already making sacrifices to afford medical care.
“This is an important question because what's happening right now is that the American people are having to sacrifice in order to purchase coverage, and as I mentioned, many individuals can't afford the kind of coverage that they have right now,” he said.
Increasing health care options for people, inciting competition between companies, and returning health care regulation to the state level was how Republicans would eventually drive down insurance costs, Price added.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.