Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz today dragged Apple and its iPhone into the debate about healthcare coverage during an appearance on CNN.
Chaffetz, who heads the House Oversight Committee, told "New Day" host Alisyn Camerota that Americans might have to decide between buying a new iPhone and paying for health insurance.
"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 said after Camerota pointed out that access to healthcare for low-income Americans was not the same as providing insurance coverage. "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."
That segment of the interview revolved around the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. The bill, which was unveiled Monday by House Republicans, has been denounced by Democrats and criticized by some of the more conservative members of the GOP.
Response to Chaffetz's iPhone-or-health-care choice was swift.
"Way to lose the PR war on #Trumpcare before it even starts," tweeted Jacob Maracle. "'It's gonna cost so much you can't afford a phone.' Good message."
"Chaffetz's phone comment reveals truth behind this plan: GOP is literally willing to let poor people die because they think they're greedy," said Jared Yates Sexton, also on Twitter.
Later in the day, Chaffetz retreated from some of his earlier comments.
"What we're trying to say, and maybe I didn't say it as smoothly as I possibly could, but people need to make a conscious choice and I believe in self-reliance," Chaffetz said on Fox News' show "America's Newsroom." "And they're going to have to make those decisions."
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2015 the average employee contribution for employer-based health insurance in the U.S. was $4,710. An iPhone 7 currently costs $649.