A Republican congressman has suggested that poorer Americans do not deserve affordable healthcare because they have not led “good lives” and so bring it on themselves when they get sick.
Speaking about the proposed “Trumpcare” replacement, Mr Brooks said: “It will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher healthcare costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy.
“And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”
Mr Brooks conceded that many people with pre-existing health conditions have them “through no fault of their own” and therefore deserved help.
The notion of the “deserving” and “underserving” sick is a controversial one in the ongoing row over Obamacare, which provides health insurance for millions of poorer Americans.
Mr Brooks’ comments provoked an immediate social media backlash, with some people demanding to know what they had done to “deserve” their cancer.
Barack Obama’s flagship policy prohibited insurers from charging higher premiums or denying coverage to people with serious health conditions, but was criticised by many on the right for increasing the cost of health insurance to wealthier Americans.
The Republicans’ proposed replacement is expected to result in health insurance companies charging higher rates to people with known health conditions and less to those who are in good health.
Critics said it will transfer hundreds of billions of dollars from the poor, who will receive reduced Medicaid and tax credits to buy insurance, to the rich who will receive a significant tax cut.
The controversial idea that sick people ought to pay more than healthy individuals has been mooted by conservatives for some time in the US.
But Democrats have argued it is unethical and unfair to segregate Americans on the basis of their health status, with some even comparing it to racial or gender discrimination.
Mr Trump’s first version of the American Health Care Act failed to win enough support in the House in March, leading to revisions to try and win over those Republicans who oppose repealing Obamacare.
The President said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the repeal and replace bill is not yet in its final form.
“I want it to be good for sick people… It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies