On November 20, 2014, Chairman Darrel Issa of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent letters to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Director Marilyn Tavenner and Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) professor Jonathan Gruber asking them to testify before his committee on December 9 at 9:30 AM. The topic: to examine the transparency failures related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as ObamaCare. So mark your calendars now for a lively hearing.
Director Tavenner has already testified before the committee on the numerous ObamaCare’s problems. No doubt a main focus of this hearing will be how her agency inflated ObamaCare’s September enrollment numbers by including dental policies. The actual enrollment numbers were not 7.3 million as announced, but closer to 6.7 million.
But it is Professor Gruber’s maiden appearance that will attract all the attention. Most of you are probably are familiar with Mr. Gruber by now but for those of you who are not, he is often referred to as one of the major architects of ObamaCare. He was paid $400,000 in consulting fees by the White House to help design the healthcare reform law and millions of dollars in additional consulting fees from federal and state agencies.
The reason he has been asked to appear before the committee is because many of his video-taped speeches in which he discusses his role in designing ObamaCare have finally come to light. His words are not flattering to the writers of the law, nor the law itself, because he unwittingly tells the truth.
As you watch many of the videos, there is a sense of elitist smugness as the professor discusses his role being part of ObamaCare’s “inner circle.” He provides an insight into the behind-the-scenes thought process in its design. Many of his speeches, particularly those before fellow economists, are eye-opening as his audience laughs about many policy decisions, such as the deception around the creation of the “Cadillac tax,” selling it to the public as a tax on insurance companies, while hiding the fact the tax really falls on individuals. And, it’s almost amusing to watch him talk, gushing like a school-girl with a crush, about being in the same room, breathing the same air, as President Obama.
The video, which really kick-started the “Gruber Film Fest,” is from the October 2013 Annual Health Economics Conference held at the University of Pennsylvania. Gruber discusses the political advantage of having a lack of transparency with many aspects of ObamaCare, such as how the bill was cleverly written so the Congressional Budget Office did not score the mandate as a tax, hiding the fact that healthy people would pay more so sick people would get money to purchase insurance, and essentially relying on the “stupidity of the American voter” to make sure the legislation got passed.
In another video [begin at 31:23], Gruber discusses the taxpayer-funded subsidies for health insurance at a forum held January 18, 201 at the Noblis Innovation and Collaboration Center. He clearly states that the subsidies for health insurance can only be issued to people who purchase ObamaCare in the state-run exchanges, not the federal exchange. Gruber says the reason the law was written this way was to encourage the states to play nice and develop an exchange. But, thirty-six states had a little “revolution” and have either failed or refused to establish an exchange. The Gruber quote is particularly valuable because the policy is the basis of four lawsuits against the federal government. The IRS has interpreted the law to say subsidies can be given in the federal exchange while the plaintiffs argue the law only allows subsidies in the state-run exchanges. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in one of the lawsuits: King v Burwell. If the Court should agree with the plaintiffs, then taxpayer-funded subsidies will become non-existent in the federally-run exchange and ObamaCare will certainly collapse.
Who can the public thank for finding many of these videos? Rich Weinstein, an investment advisor who lost his health insurance because of ObamaCare. He has spent hours surfing the internet looking for and listening to lengthy, mind-numbing lectures and shares what he finds with conservative policy wonks who have long known ObamaCare was not going to be the panacea that was promised.
Not too long ago, ACA supporters such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the President spoke highly of Professor Gruber; now they are running away from him. Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t know who he is and the President belittles his participation in the creation of the healthcare law.
One thing Mr. Gruber has certainly learned is Harry Truman’s old adage, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
Gov. Mitt Romney praises Gruber
Tax is really on the people…not the insurance companies
University of Penn lecture, voters are stupid
The states get the subsidies, not the federal exchange
Budget Impact of Healthcare Reform