Republican lawmakers have taken a lot of heat for their support of President Donald Trump's plan to repeal and replace former President Obama's Affordable Care Act. And while the president's initial replacement bill failed to make it to a vote in the House, the GOP remains committed to repealing Obamacare, putting many Republican congress members in the hot seat with their constituents. Recently, Rep. Warren Davidson outraged many of his constituents at a town hall in Enon, Ohio, earlier this week when he told a woman concerned about Republicans' efforts to end the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion that her son should get a better job if he wanted better insurance.
At a town hall earlier this week, Davidson received a question from a woman concerned that Republican lawmakers efforts to repeal Obama's Affordable Care Act would leave her son, an employee in the service industry, without insurance. The woman said her son had been without insurance for four years and was only able to obtain insurance after the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid. She cited her son as an example of "the working poor" and likened catastrophic insurance to "no insurance at all." Davidson's answer seemed to imply that those in the service industry did not have skills deserving of health insurance.
"Can you explain why my son and millions of others in his situation are not deserving of affordable, decent health care that has essential benefits so that he can stay healthy and continue working?" the woman asked Davidson during his town hall, referencing House Republicans' efforts to strip federal regulations requiring health care plans cover what the Affordable Care Act defined as essential health benefits (EHB).
According to Rep. Davidson, however, the problem wasn't so much Republican lawmakers' efforts to roll back health insurance coverage but her son's unwillingness to just find a better job with better insurance benefits. "OK, I don't know anything about your son," Rep. Davidson began. "But as you described him, his skills are focused in an industry that doesn't have the kind of options that you want him to have for health care. So, I don't believe that these taxpayers here are entitled to give that to him," said a congressional representative whose job, according to the Washington Post, entitles him to receive a taxpayer-funded subsidy that covers two-thirds of his health insurance premiums. "I believe he's got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits."
Davidson called the woman's son "an outlier," saying he was part of the 24 percent of people who work and receive Medicaid. The crowd seemed far from impressed with Davidson's answer and so he attempted to clarify things using a metaphor that has already proven to be less than successful for Republicans. "If he doesn't want a catastrophic care plan, don't buy a catastrophic care plan. If you don't want a flip-phone, don't buy a flip-phone," Davidson said. You may remember Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah told CNN in March that low-income Americans would be able to afford health insurance if they gave up "that new iPhone that they just love."
Unsurprisingly, Davidson's answer failed to appease his constituent. "I'm sorry, health care is much different than a cell phone, and I'm tired of people using cell phone analogies with health care," she said before stepping away from the microphone.