Obamacare Architect's Comments on State Exchanges Weren't a 'Mistake'

On Thursday, footage surfaced of Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist and chief architect of Obamacare, discussing the issue at the heart of the latest ACA court cases: whether subsidies are only available for state-run insurance exchanges or can also be paid as part of a federal exchange. 

During a January 2012 lecture Gruber said, "I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits."

Gruber spoke with Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic, about the video on Friday and said the remarks were a "mistake" made while "speaking off-the-cuff."

Shortly after Gruber’s excuse, Breitbart News and John Sexton released an article with an audio clip of Gruber making the same “mistake” in a prepared speech in 2012. 

Rather than wait around to hear Gruber’s excuse for this second “mistake,” I looked into what Gruber had put in writing. I wanted to see what the facts were. Gruber wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2009 titled “Getting the Facts Straight on Health Care Reform.” In the article, Gruber wrote, “The primary role of the government in this reform is as a financier of the tax credits that individuals will use to purchase health insurance from private companies through state-organized exchanges.”

Was this a mistake? What about the analysis the New York Times printed of Jonathan Gruber titled “The Senate Finance Committee Proposal Lowers Nongroup Premiums”? In this analysis, Gruber wrote, “The Senate Finance Committee proposal includes health insurance and delivery system reforms, new options, premium assistance and other proposals to improve quality, affordable health care for all Americans through state-based exchanges.”

Must have been another typo. Perhaps his analysis changed over time. Well, what about the April 11, 2011 research report Gruber wrote with Ian Perry called “Realizing Health Reform’s Potential - Will the Affordable Care Act Make Health Insurance Affordable?" In this research report, Gruber and Perry wrote, “Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals may obtain health insurance from a variety of sources. Most people will remain enrolled in the employer-sponsored insur­ance that is the major source of coverage today. The lowest-income residents—those with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL)—will be eligible for free public insurance through the Medicaid program. All others will be able to purchase insur­ance through the newly established state insurance exchanges.”

Good luck to Democrats arguing this was a “typo,” or as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday in response to the court ruling, "You don't need a fancy legal degree to understand Congress intended for the Affordable Care Act to provide tax credits regardless who was running the marketplace".

I think this will turn out to be the first major step in “Oblimination” – the reversal of Obama’s failed policies.


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