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Jason Chaffetz: Skip That New iPhone and Buy Health Care Instead

March 7, 2017, 8:00 PM UTC

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has a proposal for Americans who can’t afford health care: don’t spend money on things like new iPhones.

Chaffetz was speaking about the newly-released GOP health care plan, which was unveiled Monday night, during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday. The Obamacare replacement legislation has already drawn blowback from liberals and conservatives alike. Obamacare supporters argue the new plan would cause millions to lose coverage and make it harder for them to afford health care services, while detractors slammed the new Republican plan as “Obamacare Lite” or “Obamacare 2.0.”

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“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 got to make a choice,” said Chaffetz. “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 got to make those decisions themselves.”

Chaffetz’s remarks underscore longstanding conservative health care dogma, which largely aims to place the responsibility of paying for health care on individuals rather than the government. But in an era of rising medical costs, that can be a difficult prospect for poorer Americans who can’t afford out-of-pocket expenses – even when using Health Savings Accounts championed by Republican legislators.

As some politicians noted on Twitter, there’s also a pretty profound difference between the cost of an iPhone and the cost of health care in America.

A recent analysis by the independent nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that three in 10 Americans have trouble paying their medical bills, and that they already do, in fact, put off major purchases and even buying food, clothing, or basic household items thanks to this financial strain.