Jonathan Gruber Contradicts Himself on Obamacare and Single-Payer

By his own estimation, economist Jonathan Gruber had it backwards when he claimed in 2012 that the failure of Obamacare would lead to single-payer. Now he says only the success of Obamacare can lead to single-payer.

Speaking at a health care town hall event held in Seattle back in January 2012, Gruber said that if Obamacare was not successful at controlling costs, “we’ll have to revisit single-payer.” Gruber emphasized the point by stating it twice in response to a question about whether Obamacare could succeed at controlling costs without a public option.

But Gruber’s 2012 statement was called into question by Gruber himself in October of this year at Harvard University. “It’s very important to recognize the fallacy of something I frequently hear which is well, if Obamacare fails next we’ll go to single-payer. That is absolutely backwards,” Gruber said. He added, “Every single health reform effort moves to the right. If you like single-payer then Obamacare has to succeed.”

The contradiction was caught by Rich Weinstein, the same person who uncovered a series of video clips which have made Gruber and his role in crafting Obamacare a major topic of conversation this month.

So which is it? Is single-payer the fallback if Obamacare fails or is it the logical next step if it succeeds? Is it possibly both in the minds of progressives who intend to get to single-payer no matter what happens with the current law?

This is not the first time Gruber has been caught contradicting himself with regard to Obamacare. After suggesting that the theory put forth by plaintiffs in the Halbig case was “crazy” Gruber was caught on tape (twice) stating that this is exactly how the law worked. He later claimed these two incidents in speeches a week apart were a “speak-o” similar to a typo.


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