GOP congressman says Trumpcare will force people to choose between new iPhone and health insurance

Aaron Rupar

Aaron Rupar Journalist, Think Progress

During a Tuesday morning appearance on CNN, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) suggested that under Trumpcare, Americans will face some tough choices — like buying an iPhone or making sure they can see a doctor.

Pressed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota about whether he’s concerned Trumpcare’s reduced tax incentives and lack of individual mandate will result in less people having insurance, Chaffetz said, “Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate. 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 gotta make a choice,” he continued. “And 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 gotta make those decisions themselves.”

The cost of a new iPhone 7 without a contract is roughly $700. By comparison, the per-capita cost of health care in the U.S. last year was $10,345. Even when insurance coverage that defrays some of that cost is factored in, Americans still spend way less on phones than they do on health care.

If too many healthy people decide to forego health care they don’t think they’ll need in favor of new phones under Trumpcare, prices will go up for those remaining in the health insurance market, creating a “death spiral.”

Ironically, Chaffetz — chair of the House oversight committee — referenced the “death spiral” phenomenon earlier in the CNN interview.

“We campaigned on this, assured the American people that if you put Republicans in charge, we would fix what is in a death spiral,” Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz — who during a different part of the interview said he plans to investigate President Trump’s (groundless) wiretapping allegations, but has not shown any willingness to investigate Trump’s shady ties with Russia — also applauded the legislative process Republicans plan to use to implement health care reform.

“Do you know what I really like about it? We’re going to do it in an open and transparent way, unlike what the Democrats did with the Affordable Care Act where they rammed it through,” Chaffetz said.

House committees are actually expected to hold votes on the two Trumpcare bills as early as Wednesday, before the Congressional Budget Office has finished its analysis of how much the bill will cost or how many people will lose insurance coverage. Millions are expected to lose coverage if Trumpcare is passed — a reality acknowledged by Chaffetz in the CNN interview.

“More access, but possibly less coverage? That might be the byproduct?” Camerota asked.

“Well, yes. I think that’s fair,” Chaffetz responded. “But we’re just now consuming this. So, more of the analysis has to happen.”

UPDATE: During a subsequent appearance on Fox News, Chaffetz acknowledged his suggestion that American forego smartphones for health insurance perhaps wasn’t the ideal message for the morning after Trumpcare’s introduction.

“Well, what we’re trying to say, and maybe I didn’t say it as smoothly as I possibly could have but, people need to make a conscious choice. And I believe in self-reliance, and they’re gonna have to make those decisions,” Chaffetz said. “We want people to have access to an affordable health care product — if they have a preexisting condition, if they’re healthy, it is smart to go do it.”

Chaffetz did acknowledge that “we want people to have their communication equipment too,” but said “as an American, you gotta make choices… and as an adult, you get to make those decisions and live by those consequences.”


This was reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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