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Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In 2009, Rep. Alan Grayson characterized the Republican approach to health care as “don’t get sick, and if you do, die quickly.” Eight years later, the Florida Democrat’s words ring truer than ever, especially in light of the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would deprive 23 million of health insurance by 2026, resulting in substantial premium hikes and out-of-pocket expenses for older Americans and people with preexisting conditions. And the more Republicans are confronted with the devastating consequences of Trumpcare, the more evident it becomes how clueless they are on the Affordable Care Act specifically and health care more generally.

Here are nine of their most ignorant, uninformed comments from 2017.

1. Raul Labrador Claims That No One Dies From Lack of Health Insurance in the U.S.

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, who voted for the AHCA on May 4, was booed at a recent town hall when he claimed that in the U.S., “nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.” But according to a pre-Obamacare Harvard University study from 2009, lack of health insurance among Americans was leading to roughly 45,000 deaths annually—and the uninsured’s chance of dying from illness was 40 percent higher than Americans who were insured.

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris (formerly California’s attorney general) was quick to call Labrador out, saying it is well-documented that Americans do indeed die from lack of health insurance and that Labrador’s comment was akin to claiming that “people don’t starve because they don’t have food.”

2. Rep. Jason Chaffetz Compares Cost of Health Care to Cost of iPhones

If Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, were not enjoying top-of-the-line health insurance at the taxpayers’ expense, he might have an idea how much health care costs in the U.S. But judging from his comments during an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota in March, the Utah Republican hasn’t a clue. “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice,” Chaffetz told Camerota. “And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

The notion that Americans would be better able to afford health care if only they would buy fewer iPhones is asinine: a high-end iPhone 7 sells for $769 total or $37.41 per month on a payment plan at, while the average cost of individual health insurance in the U.S. was $6,435 per year in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In other words, the cost of even Apple’s priciest smartphones pales in comparison to what individual health insurance cost on average last year (although the ACA’s subsidies made it much easier for lower income Americans to afford those premiums). iPhone prices are also a fraction of the type of out-of-pocket costs millions of Americans could be facing if they are rendered uninsured by Trumpcare. In the International Federation of Health Plans’ 2013 Comparative Price Report, bypass surgery costs $75,345, hip replacement surgery costs $26,489, and a C-section goes for $15,240.

3. Warren Davidson’s Message to the Sick and Dying: Get a Better Job

After Chaffetz’ embarrassing interview with Camerota, one would think Republicans would avoid ludicrous analogies. But in April, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson showed his cluelessness at a town hall when a woman voiced concern that Republicans’ desire to kill Medicaid expansion would leave her son, who works in the service sector, dangerously underinsured. Davidson’s callous response: her son should get a better job.

“If he doesn’t want a catastrophic care plan, don’t buy a catastrophic care plan,” Davidson told her. “If you don’t want a flip-phone, don’t buy a flip-phone.” The woman responded, “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.”

4. Mo Brooks Equates Illness with Immorality

Prosperity theology is an odious strain of Christian fundamentalism that equates affluence with morality and poverty with immorality. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’ comments in support of Trumpcare during an April interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper were right out of the prosperity theology school of demonizing the poor. Brooks told Tapper he has no problem with Trumpcare charging Americans with preexisting conditions much higher premiums, “thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives. They’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy.”

In essence, Brooks was saying that illness is god’s way of punishing the poor for their sinful ways—an idiotic statement considering millions of people are born with preexisting conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, asthma, hemophilia or severe allergies, through no fault of their own.

5. Mick Mulvaney Vilifies Diabetics as Lazy and Irresponsible

Mick Mulvaney, director of management and budget under President Trump, recently came under fire for attacking diabetics during a speech at Stanford University. Explaining why he is fine with insurance companies punishing Americans for preexisting conditions, Mulvaney insisted that the U.S. is under no obligation to “take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly and gets diabetes.”

The American Diabetics Association didn’t hesitate to call Mulvaney out, saying, “All of the scientific evidence indicates that diabetes develops from a diverse set of risk factors, genetics being a primary cause. People with diabetes need access to affordable health care in order to effectively manage their disease and prevent dangerous and costly complications. Nobody should be denied coverage or charged more based on their health status.”

6. Roger Marshall Claims That America’s Poor ‘Just Don’t Want Health Care’

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, aka Obamacare, the number of Americans without health insurance has reached an all-time low. Millions of Americans who could not afford health insurance or were denied it because of a preexisting condition gained insurance. But according to Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall, Medicaid expansion under the ACA should end because “there is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

Marshall, in a March interview with STAT News, claimed, “The Medicaid population, which is (on) a free credit card as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising.” If Marshall bothered to do some research, he would know that low-income adults in states where Medicaid was expanded under the ACA became quite proactive about their health, seeking preventative care and making fewer trips to emergency wards.

So yes, the poor do want health care, and the more Republicans they vote out of office, the healthier they will be.

7. President Trump Praises Australian Health Care System, Failing to Understand Why It’s Superior

When President Trump met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on May 4, he praised Australia for having “better health care than we do”—ironic considering Australia has taxpayer-funded universal healthcare. The Australian health care system, as Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed out in response to Trump, is the polar opposite of what House Republicans voted for on May 4.

If Australia implemented something along the lines of Trumpcare, there would be mass protests in the streets of Melbourne and Sydney. And while Trump is absolutely correct in stating that Australia has a better health care system than the U.S., his comment was—as Sanders pointed out—painfully devoid of context.

8. Steve Scalise Falsely Claims That Trumpcare Does Not Discriminate Against Preexisting Conditions

After the House of Representatives passed the AHCA on May 4, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise claimed that under Trumpcare, “nobody can be charged more than anybody else” for a preexisting condition. It was a brazen lie. Trumpcare, unlike Obamacare, would most certainly give states the option of letting insurance companies charge much higher premiums to anyone with a preexisting condition. The guaranteed issue plans of Obamacare, for example, make no distinction between a 55-year-old cancer or diabetes patient and a 55-year-old who has never had cancer or diabetes; the cost of the plan is the same. Trumpcare does allow insurance companies to make such a distinction, and Scalise is being totally disingenuous when he claims otherwise.

9. Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan Claim Canadians Are Coming to U.S. in Droves for Health Care, Without a Shred of Evidence

For decades, Republicans have been repeating the bogus talking point that Canadians are coming to the U.S. in droves for treatment because they detest Canada’s universal healthcare system—and that lie persists in 2017. Sen. Ted Cruz repeated it during a debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders on CNN earlier this year, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan repeated it when he was being interviewed by MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.

Canadians visiting the U.S. for healthcare is the exception rather than the rule, and the myth that Canadians are invading U.S. hospitals in huge numbers has long since been debunked. In 2002, the National Population Health Survey took a comprehensive, in-depth look at Canadian health care and found that out of 18,000 Canadians surveyed, only 90 had received healthcare in the U.S.—in other words, less than 1 percent. Steven Katz, lead author of the survey, recently told Vox that even if huge numbers of Canadians did prefer the U.S. healthcare system, they could not afford it because U.S. prices for treatment are “extraordinarily high” compared to Canada and other countries.


Alex Henderson’s work has appeared in the L.A. Weekly, Billboard, Spin, Creem, the Pasadena Weekly and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.


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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

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