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GOP congressman in damage control mode after saying what Americans 'should' buy

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), during an appearance on CNN's "New Day" Tuesday, said Americans might have to choose between buying an iPhone and buying health insurance. (Image source: CNN)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday that Americans should maybe consider giving up something in order to purchase health insurance. Hours later, he walked back that statement, saying he didn't say it "as smoothly" as he could have.

House Republicans on Monday revealed their Obamacare replacement plan, dubbed the American Health Care Act, which would, among other things, replace the individual mandate under Obamacare with a 30 percent surcharge on health insurance for individuals who choose to purchase coverage after months of not being covered. Many conservatives have already taken issue with that provision, saying it is effectively a new mandate.

“This is simply not a full repeal of Obamacare. It falls far short of the promises Republicans made to the American people in four consecutive federal elections," Tim Philips, president of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, told The Hill Tuesday. "The proposed legislation trades one form of government subsidy for another government subsidy, and doesn’t roll back the mandate of Obamacare."

FreedomWorks, another conservative nonprofit, referred to Republican lawmakers supporting "Trumpcare" as "frauds."

"They supported a strong repeal bill when they knew President Obama would never sign it, and now they won’t support the same language because President Trump might sign it," Noah Wall, FreedomWorks national director of campaigns, said.

And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News Tuesday morning that the bill, which he called "Obamacare Lite," "will not pass," Congress.

"Conservatives aren’t gonna take it. Premiums and prices will continue to spiral out of control," Paul said.

Chaffetz defended Trumpcare during an interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota Tuesday, saying the 30 percent surcharge is, in fact, not a mandate.

"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. So maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care," Chaffetz said.

Hours later, Chaffetz went into damage control mode on Fox News.

“What we’re trying to say — and maybe I didn’t say it as smoothly as I could — but people need to make a conscious choice and I believe in self-reliance. And they’re gonna have to make those decisions," Chaffetz conceded.

"We want people to have access to an affordable health care product," Chaffetz continued, "if they have a pre-existing condition, if they are healthy, it is smart to go do it. What I don't like is the individual mandate to force people to do that. ... These are the types of things that you need to make a choice and a decision on in your life and as an adult you get to make those decisions and live by those consequences."

(H/T: Mediaite)

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