This Politician Told a Mother Her Son Should "Earn" Better Health Care

April 23rd 2017

Adeshina Emmanuel

'Go earn it' — that's what Republican Rep. Warren Davidson, of Ohio, told a constituent her son should do to obtain decent health care if the GOP repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Davidson's words spurred backlash among his constituents, and on social media.

Davidson's comments came Tuesday night at a town hall forum in Enon, Ohio. People in his district aired their thoughts about Republicans' ongoing efforts to repeal the health care law, known as Obamacare. GOP efforts have so far failed to repeal and replace the legislation, despite promises from President Donald Trump. 

On Sunday, liberal blog ShareBlue published a post describing the encounter:

WOMAN: My son did not have health insurance for four years, until the ACA when Medicaid was accepted. He didn’t have health insurance because he’s in the service industry. And that industry pays minimum wage and they keep their employees below a certain number of hours so that they cannot — so that they don’t have to pay health insurance. So, many of the people that are on Medicaid are working, and they are the working poor.

Under Trumpcare, one of the major ways to make health insurance affordable is to bring back catastrophic insurance, which is basically no insurance at all. Given that, given that preventative health care is the number one way to keep people healthy in our society. Can you explain why my son and millions of others in his situation are not deserving of affordable, decent healthcare that has essential benefits so that he can stay healthy and continue working?

DAVIDSON: OK, I don’t know anything about your son, 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 [sic] to give that to him. I believe he’s got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits.

Huffington Post, which picked up the story after Shareblue, noted the woman’s reference to “essential benefits,” which "alludes to the fact that House Republican leaders at one point tried to win over hardline conservatives by removing federal regulations requiring insurance plans to cover 10 basic benefits, including trips to the emergency room, as well as maternity and newborn care. In lieu of these benefits, low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plans could cover even fewer procedures than they do now." HuffPost reported that Davidson made an analogy that ruffled the town hall crowd.

...Davidson implied that finding a better plan was as simple as shopping for a higher-quality consumer product like a cellphone. 

“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, eliciting loud groans from the audience.

“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,” the woman responded, before walking away from the microphone.

Davidson, a Tea Party member, is a former Army Ranger and businessman who won a special election last June to take former GOP House speaker John Boehner's old seat after Boehner retired in 2015. The Tea Party, which clashed with Boehner often and accused him of being too moderate, has been credited with forcing the longtime lawmaker out. 

The GOP has failed twice already to hash out a replacement bill for Obamacare, but the White House has said it is still committed to give it another shot by couching those efforts within negotiations to fund the government, Huffpost reports. One of the latest ideas out of the Trump administration, according to the Huffpost, "would involve trading Democrats a dollar in Obamacare funding for every dollar they approve for construction" of President Trump's proposed border wall.