Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, who also devised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s statewide health care reforms, is backtracking on an analysis he provided the White House in support of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, informing officials in three states that the price of insurance premiums will dramatically increase under the reforms.
In an email to The Daily Caller, Gruber framed this new reality in terms of the same human self-interest that some conservatives had warned in 2010 would ultimately rule the marketplace.
“The market was so discriminatory,” Gruber told TheDC, “that only the healthy bought non-group insurance and the sick just stayed [uninsured].”
“It is true that even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’” he conceded, “in that they pay more than before [Obama's] reform.”
Gruber, whom the Obama administration hired to provide an independent analysis of reforms, was widely criticized for failing to disclose the conflict of interest created by $392,600 in no-bid contracts the Department of Health and Human Services awarded him while he was advising the president’s policy advisers.
In 2011, officials in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado ordered reports from Gruber which offer a drastically different portrait in 2012 from the one Obama painted just 17 months ago.
“As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act,” the president said in September 2010, ”premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise.”
Gruber’s new reports are in direct contrast Obama’s words — and with claims Gruber himself made in 2009. Then, the economics professor said that based on figures provided by the independent Congressional Budget Office, “[health care] reform will significantly reduce, not increase, non-group premiums.”
During his presentation to Wisconsin officials in August 2011, Gruber revealed that while about 57 percent of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit in one way or another from the law’s subsides, an even larger majority of the individual market will end up paying drastically more overall.
“After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported.
The reason for this is that an estimated 40 percent of Wisconsin residents who are covered by individual market insurance don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage requirements. Under the Affordable Care Act, they will be required to purchase more expensive plans.
Asked for his own explanation for the expected health-insurance rate hikes, Gruber told TheDC that his reports “reflect the high cost of folding state high risk pools into the [federal government's] exchange — without using the money the state was already spending to subsidize those high risk pools.”
Gruber’s Wisconsin presentation, previously available on the website of Wisconsin’s Office of Free Market Health Care, disappeared from the state government’s Web servers shortly after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued a Jan. 18 executive order scrapping the agency’s mission.