| WASHINGTON, March 7
WASHINGTON, March 7 A Republican congressman who
said on Tuesday that some Americans should choose between
spending on a new iPhone and healthcare sparked a social media
backlash from people who accused him of being out of touch.
Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah stepped into a
minefield on CNN as he defended a Republican plan in the House
of Representatives that would replace the Affordable Care Act,
known as Obamacare. The plan would replace Obamacare's
income-based subsidies to buy insurance with tax credits, and
eliminate a requirement that most Americans obtain medical
"Americans have choices. And they've got to make a choice,"
said Chaffetz, who heads the House Oversight and Government
"So maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they
just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on,
maybe they should invest in their own healthcare. They've got to
make those decisions themselves."
Social media came alive over Chaffetz's remarks, with many
users mocking the lawmaker's connection between healthcare and
an iPhone. iPhone was one of the top trending topics online,
with nearly 60,000 tweets using the term by early afternoon.
An iPhone 7 mobile phone, Apple Inc's latest model,
costs $649 on the company website. A 2016 report by the
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected the average
premium last year for employment-based insurance at about
$6,400, and somewhat less for individual coverage.
Twitter user Stephen Toulouse (@Stepto) wrote: "I would have
to give up my habit of buying an iPhone every single month to
Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) superimposed Chaffetz's face on a
portrait of Marie Antoinette, the 18th-century French queen
accused of insensitivity to the poor. "Let them have iPhones!"
Eli Friedman (@eligit) said: "Hey Jason I'm writing this to
you on my $600 iPhone, bought once every 2 years. Can you get me
insurance for $300 a year?"
After the backlash, Chaffetz told Fox News: "Maybe I didn't
say that as smoothly as I possibly could, but people need to
make a conscious choice and I believe in self-reliance."
Obamacare was the signature domestic accomplishment of
Barack Obama, the Democratic predecessor of President Donald
It has brought health insurance coverage to millions,
although premium increases have angered some. Republicans have
denounced the law as government overreach.
Trump on Tuesday endorsed the draft House bill, but
influential conservative groups came out against it,
complicating prospects for passage in Congress.
(Additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York; Editing by