Center stage for Gruber, Obamacare star and unwitting nemesis


By Wendy N. Powell, guest contributor

In hearings before the US Congress, economist-for-hire Jonathan Gruber apologized to Americans for insulting them. Are we really stupid? Or did Americans just refuse to listen to those who tried to explain why the bill would harm most of us?

Gruber and Tavenner testify

Economist-for-hire Jonathan Gruber (right) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified before Congress about PPACA/Obamacare. (C-Span video snip)

We need to look critically at the reports of how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/Obamacare  was engineered by one of its chief architects, MIT Economics Professor Jonathan Gruber. 

By now you have likely seen disturbing and fascinating information about Gruber’s “stupidity” of the American voter rants. The creation of the PPACA should interest every member of the voting public. There have been at least six videos made public that prove Gruber asserted that we are stupid and unworthy of the truth. Gruber has now become a household word that represents fleecing, and his statements will likely be included in considerations by the Supreme Court.

This firestorm started with the release of a video from the 2013 Health Economics Conference showing Professor Jonathan Gruber creating shock waves about the PPACA and Americans. Gruber was paid almost $400,000 for his advice and counsel and an aggregate of millions in state and federal government consulting fees. This is what he had to say about the very people who paid him for his work:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes.  If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies, okay?”

So it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are gonna pay in… If you made it explicit the healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, okay?

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.  And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass… But I would rather have this law than not…”

A fan of the Obamacare or not, we all need to demand transparency and clarity about the Act.

Gruber wrote a comic book about the ACA, Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works. He posited

“The individual mandate is the spinach that we have to eat in order to get the dessert that is fairly priced health insurance.”

Repeatedly we heard Gruber declare that the stupidity of the American voter was critical in getting the Obamacare bill passed. On the other hand, we might ask whether it represents fear by politicians about the intelligence of American voters.  Americans were denied the information to allow them to make a correct decision. There were lies and withholding of information, period.

We should not/cannot accept such bold mockery. And in these times of a new challenge to its very existence by the Supremes, the time has come for Gruber to stake his claim to the truth.

We now realize that the reason that the PPACA/Obamacare was upheld by the Supreme Court was due to the taxing powers of Congress.

According to Gruber in The Washington Post in 2009, “To put a twist on an old saying: The Senate assessment on high-cost insurance plans doesn’t walk like a tax or talk like a tax — because it is not a tax. It is an innovative way of financing the health reform we so desperately need.”

Gruber, as reported on ABC News in 2010, discussed the Cadillac Tax on premier health plans. He claimed it was a fee to prevent “excessively generous insurance plans”.

Are Gruber’s words a boast, concern, warning, or all?

In an unusual move, the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear the case because of confusion about subsidies provided in states that do not establish state exchanges, putting 4.7 million Americans in 34 Federal Healthcare Marketplaces in danger of losing their subsidies. And Gruber’s statements will be  critical.

Without subsidies, insurance premiums will skyrocket, hands down.  There are dueling decisions pending appeal by two different federal courts dissecting language that is allegedly unclear. The ACA language in question specifically states:“Subsidies are available to individuals that enroll in an insurance plan through an Exchange established by the State.” But there is also a clear option for states not to establish exchanges.

Jonathan Gruber has critical information for the Supremes to consider. He provided counsel to states concerning PPACA exchange issues. In 2012, Gruber stated, “What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, which means your citizens don’t get their tax credits…” 

Love or hate Gruber’s style, his counsel has significantly impacted the state of American healthcare, our choices, and information for budget considerations by the Congressional Budget Office. One thing for sure—his opinion will be critically reviewed in not only the court of public opinion, but the highest court of the land.

As Shakespeare would say, are these virtual daggers at honourable men performing good will for the people? It remains to be seen in that court of American public opinion. Will the end justify the means?

Congressional hearings under sworn testimony are underway, and the Supremes will weigh Gruber’s counsel and involvement in the “Gruberizing” of our healthcare.

Featured Photo: Economist-for-hire Jonathan Gruber (right) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified before Congress about PPACA/Obamacare. (C-Span video snip)

About the Author

Wendy N. Powell is the author of the critically acclaimed Management Experience Acquired: Necessary Skills for Successfully Managing Any Employee. Her book is now available on e-book sites. She has been featured on ABC, Fox, and NBC and talk radio as a management and career expert. Powell writes for a number of publications, including a column at The Huffington Post.

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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