Besides speaking candidly about how the American public was fooled into supporting Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, the health law’s architect, has also offered “off the cuff” remarks about a great liberal icon, the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.
In several of Gruber’s lectures, which are available online, the MIT economist walks his audience through the process of how Obamacare came into being.
The story begins in Massachusetts where Gruber helped create the state’s universal health law, now known as Romneycare.
“We had a pretty powerful senator you may have heard of named Ted Kennedy,” Gruber said during an event at Simmons College in February. “Ted Kennedy had managed to figure out a way to rip off the federal Medicaid program to the tune of about $500 million a year through a series of strange manipulations.
“Here was Mitt Romney’s dirty little secret that we don’t like to talk about in Massachusetts, which is the way we passed our law is the federal government paid for it.
“George Bush said why am I sending this Democrat $500 million a year, I’m taking it back,” Gruber explained, adding “Mitt Romney to his credit went to George Bush and said, look, can we keep the money if we use it for universal coverage. And Bush to his credit said yes.”
“We realized that we can’t do this at the state level anymore,” said Gruber. “The feds are going to have to get involved.”
Gruber followed a similar script in other lectures, including one at Washington University in St. Louis last year and another at the University of Rhode Island in 2012.
At the University of Rhode Island event, Gruber said Kennedy was “delivering about $400 million a year in slush funds to our SafeNet hospitals, basically ripping off the federal Medicaid program.”
In that lecture, Gruber said Bush acted “appropriately” to address Kennedy’s fund.
Gruber was referring to Kennedy’s procurement in 1996 of a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver from the Clinton administration. The waiver was seen as a key component of Massachusetts’ “MassHealth” program. Though Gruber implies underhandedness in Kennedy’s methods, the Democrat touted the waiver as one of the highlights of his career.
As Forbes columnist and former Romney adviser Avik Roy explained in 2012, Massachusetts’ waiver was coming to an end on July 1, 2005. Seeing this, Romney proposed a plan that increased access to cost-effective plan and to a “Safety Net Care” program.
Gruber’s public statements are being heavily vetted now after several videos appeared this week in which the economist bragged about how the American public was tricked into supporting Obamacare.
Gruber was paid $400,000 to consult on Obamacare.
“It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,” Gruber said of one portion of the law, the Cadillac tax, at the University of Rhode Island lecture. (RELATED: In A Third Video, Obamacare Architect Talks About ‘Basic Exploitation’ Of American Voter)
At a 2013 academic panel held at the University of Pennsylvania, Gruber said that Obamacare was “written in a tortured way” in order to ensure that it would get passed.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber said. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass.”