Republicans argue anyone who loses coverage under Trumpcare really doesn’t want it

“Choosing, not losing.”

CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently concluded that 22 million Americans will lose their health insurance over the next decade if the Senate version of Trumpcare becomes law. The majority of those coverage losses would result from the bill’s dramatic cuts to Medicaid, but reducing federal subsidies and allowing insurance companies to sell plans that cover less would also produce a state of affairs where “few low-income people would purchase any plan,” the CBO found.

In other words, under Trumpcare, millions of people would fall victim to Medicaid cuts or would be priced out of the insurance market altogether. But according to Trumpcare supporter Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), losing access to affordable health insurance is simply a byproduct of freedom.

In response to a tweet from Mic’s Emily Singer accusing Cornyn of viewing “22 million people losing health care as a fair trade for maybe 250K jobs,” Cornyn said “losing” is the wrong word to use, adding in a subsequent tweet that “people will buy what they value.”

Cornyn’s tweets echo a talking point used by Marc Short, President Trump’s director of legislative affairs, during a Fox News interview that aired Sunday morning. Short said the people who would lose coverage as a result of Trumpcare — which eliminates the individual mandate requiring everyone to purchase coverage or pay a tax — are simply exercising choice.

“That’s not losing, that’s choosing,” Short said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has also deployed this talking point. During a Fox & Friends interview late last month, Ryan said that “what they’re basically saying at the CBO is if you’re not going to force people to buy Obamacare, if you’re not going to force people to buy something that they don’t want, they won’t buy it.”


“So it’s not that people are getting pushed off a plan,” he continued. “It’s that people will choose not to buy something they don’t like or want.”

The concept appears to be catching on in GOP circles. According to Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis, a “frequent GOP talking point in Senate hallways” is that 22 million people “won’t be ‘losing’ health insurance, they’ll be ‘choosing’ to go without.”

Cornyn’s talking point invokes a line infamous used by then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in March. Pressed during a CNN interview about whether he’s concerned Trumpcare’s reduced tax incentives and lack of individual mandate will result in less people having insurance, Chaffetz suggested low-income people forego new iPhones and purchase coverage instead.


“And you know what? 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.”

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.

The “choosing, not losing” talking point illustrates the difficultly Trumpcare supporters are having messaging on behalf of a bill that has an approval rating in the teens. Other approaches have included accusing liberals of “hysteria” for pointing out the well-understood connection between people losing health insurance and mortality rates, and arguing that losing coverage is no big deal since “we’re all going to die” anyway.