Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said Tuesday on CNN's "New Day" that Americans have more insurance options with the Republican Party's Obamacare replacement plan, suggesting that people prioritize spending money on their health care over unnecessary goods.
Chaffetz made the comment while discussing with host Alisyn Cameron the Republican Party's plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, which was released by the House of Representatives on Monday night.
"It leaves lower income Americans uninsured," Camerota said of the House GOP bill.
"Well, we want them to be able to provide–have a method so they can get access to it," responded Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Chaffetz appeared to be arguing that by repealing Obamacare's individual mandate, the American people have more health care options and can choose to buy into the program or not.
He added that for some people this would mean not buying unnecessary items, like an iPhone, in order to afford health care.
"Americans have choices and they've got to make a choice 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," Chaffetz said. "They've got to make those decisions themselves."
Chaffetz's comment triggered significant backlash on Twitter from liberals, including left-leaning journalists.
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) March 7, 2017
you, a poor: "my children need medicine, please help"
me, a jason chaffetz: "have you thought about buying a flip phone instead?"
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) March 7, 2017
People in cushy jobs love poverty shaming. They fucking LOVE it. https://t.co/bZsbMwcPWf
— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) March 7, 2017
my new iphone w/ contract cost me $200
caring for my diabetes, WITH insurance? don't even try to @ me, congressman. https://t.co/7iv096irMT
— Nick Andersen (@nicktheandersen) March 7, 2017
However, Chaffetz's remark echoed statements that former President Barack Obama made in December 2013 at a White House "youth summit."
Obama told youth leaders he was not sure what the cost of an iPhone was, joking he was "not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone," but that the cost of health coverage on the Obamacare marketplaces was probably comparable, CBS News reported at the time.
"The idea that you wouldn't want to make sure that you've got the health security and financial security ... you guys are smarter than that," Obama said. He appeared to be saying that people should make sure they use their money to obtain " health security and financial security" before buying products like iPhones.
Obama received the same criticism over social media for his comments in 2013 that Chaffetz is facing today.