Claims About ACA Architect Jonathan Gruber-Truth! Fiction!

Claims About ACA Architect Jonathan Gruber-Truth! Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who worked on Obamacare, said the “stupidity of the American voter” played a role in getting the bill signed into law in 2010.

The Truth:

It’s true that Jonathan Gruber cited the “stupidity of the American voter” in getting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, signed into law.

Gruber first made the controversial comment during a Health and Economics Conference hosted by the Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (PennLDI) in October 2013.

“The bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber said. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really critical to get the thing to pass.”

The “mandate” that Gruber refers to is ACA’s individual mandate, which requires that Americans purchase health insurance, or face a fine.

Gruber went on to say that he wished that “we could make it all more transparent,” but then added, “but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Gruber appeared on MSNBC days after the video went viral on November 11, 2014.

“The comments in the video were made at an academic conference,” Gruber said. “I was speaking off the cuff, and I basically spoke inappropriately, and I regret making those comments.”

But after Gruber’s appearance on MSNBC, Fox News aired a second video in which Gruber referred to the “stupidity” of the American people. In that video, which was recorded at Washington University in St. Louis in October 2013, Gruber was reportedly referring to how the ACA’s Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans was structured.

Claims that Gruber was an architect of Obamacare, however, may be over-exaggerated. Gruber’s MIT bio describes him as “a key architect of Massachusetts’ ambitious health reform effort” from 2003-2006. It also says he worked as a “technical consultant” to the Obama administration and Congress in drafting the ACA.

The White House has denounced Gruber’s comments.

Posted 11/14/14