During an appearance on CNN in March, then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) infamously suggested that under Trumpcare, Americans will face some tough choices — like buying an iPhone or making sure they can see a doctor.
“Americans have choices, and they’ve gotta make a choice,” Chaffetz said. “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.”
On Monday night, Chaffetz — who resigned from Congress at the end of last month and is now a Fox News contributor — returned to that theme, posting a photo on Instagram of a person on the street using a smartphone.
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It’s unclear exactly what point Chaffetz was trying to make by shaming this person on social media. But his suggestion seems to be that the person in the photograph is somehow unworthy of having a smartphone, given their life circumstances.
It’s an absurd notion given the importance of internet access for everything from transit directions to banking. Low-income people, for instance, may have a harder time affording internet access at home, and hence use their smartphone as their primary means of connecting.
Americans spend a lot more on healthcare than on cell phones. pic.twitter.com/X8zreuc2NP
— Brendan Duke (@Brendan_Duke) March 7, 2017
“The connections to online resources that smartphones facilitate are often most tenuous for those users who rely on those connections the most,” Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center, told CNBC in 2015.
Chaffetz preaches personal responsibility while supporting health care reforms that would make accessing coverage more expensive for low-income Americans regardless of their individual choices. Ironically, Chaffetz was recovering from surgery when he used a scooter for travel through the halls of Congress in May and vote for a health care bill that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would strip coverage from 23 million people.
Maybe we'll get another one of those inspirational photos like when Chaffetz came rolling back for the House bill. pic.twitter.com/jLwwAgxDUR
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) July 16, 2017
In its analysis of the Senate version of the bill, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office wrote that premiums and deductibles would become so expensive under Trumpcare that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.” Many plans would come with extremely high out-of-pocket costs, and states could opt to allow insurers to sell plans that don’t cover services mandated by Obamacare, such as addiction treatment and maternity care.
The Medicaid cuts included in both the House and Senate version of the bill would also disproportionately affect low-income Americans, making it even more difficult for them to access health coverage.
Those problems would be even more acute if Senate Republican move forward to repeal Obamacare without a replacement bill — a possibility that became more likely over the weekend after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that key parts of the Senate Trumpcare bill violate Senate rules.
During one of Chaffetz’s first appearances as a Fox News contributor, he ignored Trumpcare’s impact on people and urged Republicans in Congress to just pass a health care bill.
“There’s a great deal of frustration in both the House and the Senate that there is not yet a bill, because it really feels like they haven’t gotten together and figured out a plan yet,” he said.