Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) probably wished he was better prepared for his Sunday MSNBC interview about Republican plans to reform health care after host Joy-Ann Reid's questioning left him stuttering and unable to present a credible defense.
Appearing on Reid's Sunday morning program, Carter immediately got off to a rocky start after the MSNBC host asked how Georgia would be "better off" with nearly 500,000 people losing their Obamacare coverage.
"Medicaid expansion allows up to 138 percent of the poverty rate," Reid pointed out. "By definition, you are working. They are the working poor. They have jobs that may be part time, they may be hourly. These are working people... If they don't have the money to buy insurance, and you say they shouldn't get Medicaid, how would they take advantage of all these new choices? They don't have any money."
In defense of House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plan, Carter asserted incorrectly that the government was hurting poor people by subjecting them to an insurance mandate under Obamacare.
Reid wasn't having it: "I'm talking about this population that you said shouldn't be on Medicaid -- the 400,000 people in your state plus the currently 111,000 uninsured -- you're saying they're going to get more choices. But these people, by definition, are working. They are poor, they don't have the money to buy insurance. So how would giving them more choices help them if they don't have the money to buy any of the choices?"
"First of all, I would question whether they're all working," Carter replied.
"Let's me stop again," Reid interrupted. "You can't panhandle your way to 138 percent of the poverty rate. You're a working person. They're working -- 138 percent of the poverty rate, by definition, is a working person."
Carter noted that the Republican plan provided tax credits to poor people who buy insurance, although those credits are less generous than the subsidies provided under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
"So, you're saying they should wait until April 15th of each year?" Reid shot back. "And then in the tax refund they get each year, somehow even though they can't [afford insurance] now -- these people who are the working poor."
"You'll be covered!" Carter promised without providing details. "You'll have the opportunity."
Reid then tried to present Carter with facts about how a 60-year-old person making $30,000 would receive 69 percent less federal help under the GOP plan, but the congressman responded with an attack on the current system.
"Look at what Obamacare has done!" he exclaimed. "We don't have any choices here in Georgia! We don't have competition! And what we are trying to do is create a market that will give them choices."
Reid also reminded Carter that under the GOP plan people buying insurance would have to pay 30 percent higher premiums if they had previously lost coverage.
Carter said that the increased premiums were necessary, noting that he had worked in a pharmacy and "experienced" mothers who were gaming the system.
"When I was practicing as a pharmacist, I had Medicaid mothers all the time," he scoffed. "They wanted to get a prescription filled. I'd tell them, 'You're not covered.' They'd come back the next day and say, 'I'm covered now, I paid up.'"
"I don't think an insurance company should cover someone that is gaming the system," Carter opined.
"Why do you supposed another 12 million people signed up for Obamacare if it is, in fact, so awful?" the MSNBC host wondered. "It sounds to me like you just opposed the concept of Medicaid."
"No!" Carter said, raising his voice. "Come on, Joy. You know that's not true."
"But you keep on saying we shouldn't have people on Medicaid," she fired back.
"Medicaid will actually be better after this," Carter declared.
"How will it be better if people can't get Medicaid and therefore can't get covered?" Reid said.