Embattled academic Jonathan Gruber pleaded with reporters Thursday to give Massachusetts’ Obamacare workers a second chance after the state’s Obamacare exchange failed miserably over the past year.
“We didn’t do a great job last year,” Gruber said to reporters after a meeting with state Obamacare officials Thursday, the Boston Herald reports. “Give us another chance.” Gruber, an MIT professor who worked for the Obama administration and several states on the health-care law, is also a board member of the Massachsuetts Health Connector.
Massachusetts had a perfectly functional Romneycare exchange when Obamacare became law, but took federal money to build a revamped Obamacare exchange for 2013. That new exchange was a disaster and Massachusetts is set to launch a third version of a health insurance marketplace Saturday.
Last February, Gruber blamed his fellow board members for “falling down on our jobs” and being “disinterested” in overseeing the creation of the new Obamacare exchange.
The Boston Herald reported that Gruber repeatedly said “No comment!” when asked about his many, many recorded comments discussing the “stupidity of the American voters” and the ways the administration misled the public about what was in Obamacare while it was passed.
Given the state’s messy experience over the past year, Massachusetts Obamacare officials have tended towards the dramatic before. The former director of the state-run Obamacare exchange was reduced to weeping in a hearing with Obama administration officials about an extension for the decrepit website earlier this year.
“These people came here to lead and innovate,” Jean Yang said of her staff, while in tears, “and instead they’re doing manual workarounds, and they are embarrassed to tell friends and family that they work for the Health Connector.” The Department of Health and Human Services gave her the extension.
Massachusetts will relaunch its health exchange Saturday morning. Officials have promised the website will be able to handle four times the traffic they expect, have boosted call center workers and will be operating a ‘command center’ to ensure the site is working well.