Chaffetz: Low-income Americans will have to choose health care over iPhones

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R) - Utah. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

March 7, 2017 (Gephardt Daily/UPI) — Low-income Americans may have to prioritize purchasing health care coverage over items such as iPhones under Republicans’ Obamacare-replacement plan, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Tuesday, CNN is reporting.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Chaffetz told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” that he wants low-income Americans to be able to have more access to health coverage.

“But access for lower-income Americans doesn’t equal coverage,” Camerota 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,” Chaffetz replied. “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and 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.

“We have to be able to lower the cost of health care,” he said. “We do think that with more choices, that you will get a better product at a lower price and that will be good for everybody on the entire spectrum of income.”

Congressional Republicans on Monday released some details of their long-awaited health care package to replace former President Barack Obama‘s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans made available a rough outline of two bills Monday afternoon. More detailed versions are expected to follow this week.

The 66-page proposal Monday offers a more conservative approach to U.S. health care but does not detail specific elements — such as what the program would cost or how many Americans it could cover. The GOP plan says tax credits will be offered to help pay for insurance, but it will not force people to purchase coverage — meaning fewer people will likely be covered than were under the ACA.

The new plan will also protect patients with pre-existing conditions and allow adults to remain on their parents’ coverage plans until the age of 26.

Changes can and are expected to be made to the legislative package, which must ultimately be approved by Congress and President Donald Trump. Congressional scorekeepers are now going over the legislation, The Washington Post reported, and House committees are expected to vote on the measures sometime this week. A full House vote would follow.

Four Republican senators, though, warned Monday that they won’t approve any health care plan that leaves large swaths of Americans without coverage — a key concern also expressed by former Obama administration officials and ACA advocates.

Patients who became eligible for Medicaid through the ACA must also be covered by any replacement package, the senators emphasized. Under the GOP plan, the federally funded expansion of Medicaid will end in 2020.

The legislators — Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito, R. W.Va., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak. — all represent states that have seen Medicaid expansion under the ACA.

The GOP plan would also repeal ACA taxes starting next year, such as the medical device tax and health insurance tax.

To pass any health care program through Congress, at least two of the aforementioned four senators would need to support it.


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