Jeb Bush: Repeal Obamacare and buy an Apple Watch

Jeb Bush has had plenty of time to study for his presidential run, but something tells me he hasn’t done his homework.

It’s been a rough week for Jeb. After running through four answers in four days on the most obvious question he should have seen coming — Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq? — and accidentally announcing his candidacy prematurely, he’s probably ready to exit the news cycle for a few days and regroup.

It doesn’t look like that’s about to happen. Yesterday, speaking to a group of supporters in Arizona, Bush went off on a tangent when discussing his desire to repeal Obamacare to extol the wonders — real and imagined — of his Apple Watch.

Here’s the video:

As Vox’s Sarah Kliff noted, it doesn’t sound like Bush is literally saying that he would replace Obamacare with Apple Watches, as some have suggested. He said we should repeal Obamacare, someone pointed out his Apple Watch, and then he talked about how much better the market is in producing products than the government. Here’s the relevant text of what Jeb said from that video:

I think we should repeal Obamacare, given the opportunity, and replace it…with a consumer-directed model where people are engaged in making health care decisions for themselves and where they’re given the tools to do so. And here’s the deal: If we get that right, we’re on the verge… [man points out Apple Watch]

…On this device, in five years, will be applications that will allow me to manage my healthcare in ways that five years ago were not even possible. I’ll have the ability; someone will, because of my blood sugar…someone will send me a signal…I’ll get a double-beep saying “You just ate a butterscotch sundae” or something like that…”You’re diabetic, you can’t do that.” We’ll be able to guide our own healthcare decisions in a way that will make us healthy. And ultimately, we have to get to a health system, away from a disease system.

But in this case, context doesn’t get Bush off the hook. What he’s saying there is arguably worse than it would have been if he had actually said that we should replace Obamacare with Apple Watches. Rather than saying that technology can get us better health insurance, Bush seems to have failed to make the distinction between health insurance and health care in the first place.

Jeb Bush, original photo via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Jeb Bush, original photo via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Obamacare and Apple Watches are perfectly compatible. If your watch can tell you that you need to go to the doctor, then great! Go to the doctor. But don’t expect your watch to pay for your care once you get there. You need insurance for that. As Kliff pointed out, “The vision that Bush outlines isn’t one where the Apple Watch replaces Obamacare. It’s one where the Apple Watch relies on Obamacare existing to empower consumers in the first place.”

And of course, if you can afford an Apple Watch, chances are you can afford health insurance.

But that’s more or less the problem, isn’t it? Jeb Bush, along with the rest of the Republican field, have no answer for how to cover the nearly 17 million Americans who wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance if Obamacare was repealed.

Americans like Luis Lang, the self-employed handyman who refused to purchase health insurance under Obamacare because he thought he’d be able to get care in case of an emergency. And when that emergency did come — Lang suffered multiple strokes and now needs surgery to keep from going blind — he found out that, in fact, health care is super expensive. He’s now relying on a crowdfunding effort — led primarily by liberals who are taking the opportunity to say “we told you so” — to raise money for surgery that could cost him up to $30,000 out of pocket.

He can’t afford an Apple Watch, and he can’t afford to not have insurance. What’s Jeb Bush’s plan for him?


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • jimbeaux

    it’ll include a “voucher check” app & when that is zeroed out – a funeral planning app will pop up.

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  • Mark Reyer

    He’s the first Republican that has actually come up with an alternative to Obamacare. Ok, so it sucks. I’m not sure its actually better than nothing.

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  • RepubAnon

    Right up until they get diabetes-related blindness… then, they’ll blame ObamaCare.

    And isn’t it interesting how the answer to the world’s problems is not a “nanny state”, but a Big Corporate Brother. Care to bet that your health insurance company would have the ability to void your health insurance retroactively if they didn’t like what your watchful watch reported?

  • Well, so much for the “smarter brother.”

    The real problem is that his audience will swallow it, hook, line, and sinker.

  • FLL

    The 2000 election was a joke, I know. The “butterfly ballots” and everything. You’re in Orlando and I’m in Fort Lauderdale, but the confusion, I think, was in Palm Beach County. I’m sure there have been election fiascos in other states. Yes, Floridians can take a joke. Actually, I’d keep my eye on Ohio these days, since that’s what the GOP is doing. ;)

  • Indigo

    That’s a delightful satire on life in Florida. I chuckled over several witticisms there. It’s more a fetid bog than a corrupt bog, though, but I see your point. Making it political. It isn’t really political. This is the Subtropics. It’s the humidity..

  • Indigo

    He’s an Apple product? Good luck with that. Obsolete in six months.

  • labman57

    Hey Jeb, maybe we can give everyone a medical tri-corder like they use on Star Trek …

  • Oh God,she’s as dumb as Palin.

  • Even when liberal politicians talk about health care, it’s obvious they have no idea how things work for people who don’t have the top plans and access to pretty much anything they want. They should talk to the temp in their spouse’s office. Yeah, like that would happen. And find out what it’s like for people who don’t get insurance through their employer. Or don’t have insurance at all. (1 out of 4 Texans didn’t have health insurance as of last year. I hope that’s gotten better but I’m not optimistic.) And this idea that people are opting out just because they don’t feel like paying for it. Yes, I have one relative like that but she squirreled away about 25% of her pay her whole life so if she gets sick she can pay for it. A big illness might wipe her out, but it would have to be the biggest, longest and most expensive one. Everyone else I know without insurance really can’t afford for 1/4 of their income to go into insurance which it often was for a lot of people before ACA. I don’t know what part of this they aren’t getting but it’s obvious that the political class, including MOST Democrats do not talk to working class people. They really ought to ask the person taking their order next time they’re at a fast food joint what everyone working there is doing for insurance. How much they pay and how much that is compared to their income. Really it’s not that hard. But it would involve pretending to care about someone who isn’t going to donate tens of thousands of dollars to their superpac.

  • People who don’t have to worry about how to pay for things and people who have always had gold-plated insurance plans have no idea what it’s like for everyone else. I have insurance. Not a great plan, but a good plan. Before I go to a doctor I call (not just trust the website) to make sure they are in my network. (I have a PPO so I don’t need referrals.) They tell me the visit is fully covered. Great. No copay even. Then I go to the doctor. They call the insurance company and then tell me that the insurance company told them that because I havene’t met my deductible for the year that I have to pay for the visit. Okay. I know that’s not right so I pay and they say they’ll submit it so I’m reimbursed. So I call the insurance company that assures me that when they submit it I will be. Great. So now they have my money and no incentive to do anything because what the fuck does the doctor’s office care if I’m ever reimbursed. So I check with the doctor’s office after about a month and they refer me to the company that handles their billing stuff because reasons. So I call them. And call them. No one answers their phone. So I use whitepages.com to get the name of the company that I’m calling based on their phone number and email using their website which is ONLY for the doctor’s office to use. A day later someone calls me (probably because I threatened to consult an attorney if they didn’t. They say they submitted the claim. My insurance company says they didn’t. No one ever returns my calls and finally the insurance company calls me back because they don’t have my social security number which they need for the form (which is weird but whatever. I know people can do bad things with that info but honestly if they wanted it that bad and were crooks they could get it anyway.) Then I got busy with work (multiple jobs) and school and other things so I’ll have to call back because no one has contacted me in a few weeks. This has been going on since February. Now tell me: could single payer be worse than this? And this is only me trying to get back $170. Which I could use but I’m not starving or anything. I know there are people who are having this same issue but over thousands of dollars or trying to get approved for treatment they need so they won’t die. This is fucked up. This is a health care SYSTEM? Jeb Bush can kiss my fat gay ass, mother fucker!

  • 2karmanot

    Or even an hourglass!

  • Zorba

    Exactly so, Naja. This is a plan to enrich the insurance industry even more than it already was. Even at the expense of fining taxpayers who still cannot afford to purchase “health” insurance. Yes, yes, I know that it’s not considered a “fine,” it’s a “tax penalty.”
    Bullshit. It’s a fine.

  • Zorba

    Although, with Jeb, his watch may, indeed, be smarter than he is. ;-)

  • FLL

    Then ignore the “edit,” since, as you say, it’s unnecessary—which means, no complaints.

  • mirth

    No, it is not necessary for you to do a clarification or a correction or in any other way on this or any other thread, past and present, attempt to interpret or explain or analyze anything I may write. You never get it right, so just fucking stop it.

  • mirth

    Very good analysis of this latest from Stumbledumb. What is seriously sad is that his supporters do not and will not get just how stupid Bush3 really is. They will hear ‘repeal obamacare’ – Yea! – too stupid themselves to understand why it should be repealed and what is and what isn’t in their own best interests on this and a host of other issues. Democrats should cheer Jeb’s flameout, but the trajectory of it could be 1600 Penn Ave.

  • FLL

    I wrote something in the first part of the comment which at the moment (but hopefully not always) is potentially problematic. I referred to one of your previous comments about Walker. Is it necessary to add an “edit” to acknowledge that you’re no more a fan of Walker than I am? No, but I’m erring on the side of caution.

  • mirth

  • mirth

    What would we do without you, FLL, to explain other commenter’s political beliefs and actions?

    *eye roll*

  • 2karmanot

    Bingo!

  • 2karmanot

    Over my dead turkey.

  • Which is one of the myriad of reasons why I’ve consistently stated that Obamacare isn’t a step towards single-payer, no matter how much good may have accomplished getting people covered, it’s a step backward – giving the insurance industry even more control over the lives of people. Entrenching predatory behavior in the market, allowing the profiting off people’s misery. Despite having more people covered, more people than ever are still unable to afford their medical bills. What’s the point in having “insurance” if you’re still bankrupted when someone in your family has a major medical issue?

  • devlzadvocate

    His own mother gave us fair warning not to put another Bush in office.

  • FLL

    “His current performance is just spectacular comedy, which given the past, might make him the next Republican President.”

    I also remember mirth writing something to the effect that everyone should practice saying “President Walker,” referring to to Wisconsin governor who didn’t even get a college degree of any kind—not a two-year associate degree, not a 4-year bachelor’s degree, nothing. Only 1 president in the last 114 years didn’t have a college degree.

    In the case of both Jebya and Walker, I’d say their supporters are counting their chickens before they’ve hatched.

  • Glen Thompson

    Oh, come on, pick Sarah Palin.

  • Hue-Man

    AppleWatch will report the butterscotch sundae to your health insurer which will immediately charge your bank account with the higher premium.

    There is no such thing as a health care marketplace: “Please hold up on my triple by-pass, I want to check my AppleWatch for competing offers.”

  • UncleBucky

    Apple Watch costs more than one month’s BCBS premium with a $5000 deductible, before the ACA kicked in and made my insurance less catastrophic.

  • Stephen Voss

    There are people willing to say Jeb Bush is smarter than his brother. Jeb wants you to know it ain’t so. He really thinks people without health insurance should buy smart watches. I wonder what doctors think of this approach to preventive medicine. If you ask me, the only thing dumber than Jeb is his watch.

  • keirmeister

    The healthcare discussion in this country is maddening. Jeb Bush talks about people being engaged in making healthcare decisions….it sounds good, but the problem is that even if you HAVE health insurance, you have to be engaged in order for the insurers to cover stuff.

    My family finally got good health insurance again. Yet we STILL have to make sure the doctor’s office uses the correct testing place that our insurance covers and argue over procedures that a doctor says are needed, but the insurance company says is not (and pay out of pocket just to avoid a more invasive older technique).

    I had to have tests done on two different days because my insurance doesn’t cover two tests done on the same day!

    ?!?WTF?!?

    Is this the type of engagement we should be having as healthcare consumers? I would love to simply be engaged with my DOCTOR! But we also have to stay on top of every little thing the healthcare insurers do. Otherwise appointments get pushed back, high bills start popping up…America’s health insurance system in a frakkin’ nightmare.

  • 2karmanot

    “but something tells me he hasn’t done his homework” The Bush wackers don’t do homework, they hire others to do the lifting. .Jebya is supposed to be the intelligent one, and I suspect that is because his governor’s staff were of a slightly more efficient quality than the sad little clown car now on display. Considering the corrupt bog that is Florida, meritocracy probably passes as genius there and nabobs like the Bushes are perfectly at home. Back in time………….remember when Jebya was given the simple tasks of helping with the Indonesian tsunami relief? He lumbered through the death and ruins there like a trolling Uncle Fester looking for truffles until the cameras took mercy and he was quietly shuffled off stage. His current performance is just spectacular comedy, which given the past, might make him the next Republican President. I hope he has the penultimate wisdom to pick and intellectual equal as his VP—-Louie Gohmert comes to mind. I’ll make the popcorn, ya’ll bring the beer.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Medicare is under attack. It’s being constricted, not expanded and that’s partly to shift money to Obamacare, where it ends up in the pockets of the owners of insurance and pharmaceutical companines.

    “WASHINGTON — In his new budget, President Obama proposed on Monday to squeeze $399 billion over the next 10 years out of Medicare, Medicaid and other programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Under the proposals, many Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay more for their care and coverage. The president would, for example, introduce a co-payment for new Medicare beneficiaries who receive home health care services, and he would collect $4 billion over 10 years by imposing a surcharge on premiums for new beneficiaries who buy generous private insurance to supplement Medicare.

    In addition, Mr. Obama’s budget would reduce scheduled Medicare payments to teaching hospitals, hundreds of small rural hospitals, nursing homes and health maintenance organizations that care for older Americans and people with disabilities.

    Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president of AARP, the lobby for older Americans, welcomed a proposal by Mr. Obama to hold down the cost of prescription drugs. But she said, “We have concerns about certain proposals that could shift costs onto older Americans, such as higher premiums, deductibles and co-payments for Medicare beneficiaries.” … The budget would reduce the projected growth of Medicare payments for graduate medical education by $16 billion over 10 years while saving $116 billion in Medicare payments to drug companies for medicines prescribed for low-income patients.” my underlining
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/us/politics/under-obama-budget-many-medicare-recipients-would-pay-more.html?emc=edit_th_20150203&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=25790019

  • 2patricius2

    My understanding is that when Johnson got Medicare passed, he envisioned its expansion to cover all citizens. Unfortunately, that is not what has happened thus far. But maybe some day. Maybe someday our healthcare will be as inclusive as the coverage in much of the developed world.

  • gratuitous

    Jeb Bush’s plan for Mr. Lang, and indeed the Republican plan for Mr. Lang, was summed up by Rep. Grayson: Don’t get sick, but if you do, die quickly. I trust Mr. Lang will now take the proper course as limned by his political overlords.

  • Atleastmydog Likesme

    We’d already tried the free market. It failed, just like these Apple products, such as the Apple Pippin….

    http://www.oobject.com/category/12-failed-apple-products/

  • The_Fixer

    I am glad that Jeb can afford an expensive watch that can keep track of all of that stuff. He deserves to be indundated with targeted advertising from pharmaceutical companies trying to sell him their latest drugs.

    Because that’s primarily what that device and it’s parent iPhone is intended to do – collect information from you so that you can be fed a heapin’, healthy dose of advertising.

    He deserves that, being the free-market capitalist that he is (who has lived off of the government teat, a family tradition with that bunch).

    All of these A-Holes want to repeal “Obamacare”, yet not one of them has proposed anything that can be both workable and effective. And no one dares to bring up any kind of socialized medicine, which is what is really called for here.

  • Bill_Perdue

    We need socialized medicine.

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