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.”

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This was reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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