Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has agreed to testify to Congress about his role in writing the health-care law and in keeping its real effects from the American public.
Gruber, an MIT economist who consulted for the Obama administration on the law, has agreed to go before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Dec. 9. Oversight chairman Darrell Issa called on Gruber to come before the committee last week. (RELATED: Gruber Called To Testify On Obamacare Transparency Failures)
The Obamacare adviser will join Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner before the committee. Oversight Democrats will also ask a witness of their own, but they have not yet chosen.
“From the outset, the health law has been the poster child for this Administration’s broken transparency promises,” Issa said in a statement last week. “Americans were told if they liked their plans and doctors, they could keep them. They were told the individual mandate wasn’t a tax. None of these were true…the American people deserve honesty, transparency and respect from those who forced the federal government into their healthcare.”
The hearing should prove especially contentious. Gruber has infamously been caught calling the American electorate “stupid” and boasting about how he helped the Obama administration hide the ultimate effects of several Obamacare provisions, including the costly Cadillac tax, from the public in order to get the law passed by Congress.
Since his past candid comments were dug up, Gruber’s largely kept quiet. The hearing will be one of his first encounters with, at least in part, a hostile audience.
And Tavenner, whose had frosty experiences with the Oversight Committee in the past, is likely to be put through the ringer as well. An Oversight investigation released last week found that Tavenner gave the committee a false Obamacare enrollment total.
Tavenner testified to the Oversight Committee in September then that 7.3 million people had continued to pay for their Obamacare coverage after signing up, but the real number at that point was 6.9 million. CMS had conveniently included stand-alone dental plans as medical insurance plans. Because Tavenner refused to release data with her testimony, it took the committee’s investigators months to uncover the reality.
Since Tavenner’s testimony, the false enrollment total was repeated by the Department of Health and Human Services as well. The real enrollment numbers, according to a correction by Tavenner, is 6.7 million. The administration has yet to release any detailed data sets on Obamacare enrollment — HHS released the last enrollment report in May. (RELATED: Admin’s Obamacare Transparency Pledges Undercut By Silence On Sign-Ups)
The administration has held strong that the incorrect coverage totals were simply a mistake. Federal officials from CMS to the White House have all worked to distance themselves from Gruber, however. (RELATED: Sebelisu Swears ‘We Were Very Forthright’ About Obamacare)
The hearing will be one of the last for Issa, who is term-limited as chairman of Oversight.