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UH OH: Obama: ’Like Your Plan, Keep Your Plan.’ Gruber, 2009: ‘Five Million People Will Lose Their Plan’

In Australia at the G20 summit yesterday, President Obama forcefully rejected the concept that the administration used deception to garner support for the passage of Obamacare. In recent days, a citizen journalist uncovered that Obamacare’s highly compensated chief architect Jonathan Gruber claimed deception was indeed used to hide the so-called “Cadillac tax”; other outlets subsequently identified at least six separate instances of Gruber stating that the law was designed to hide potentially unpalatable elements from the American voter.

Said Obama:

I would just advise every press outlet here: Pull up every clip and every story. I think it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent … It was a tough debate.

As noted by Politico (above link), Obama’s statement regarding deception neglects that he already has admitted his frequent claims that Americans would not lose preexisting plans under Obamacare to have been a mistake. Politifact went so far as to label Obama’s “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan” as its “Lie Of The Year”.

Ironically, Obama’s statement yesterday at the G20 meeting appears to be spectacularly ill-advised. For not only did he seemingly forget that he has already admitted to a provision of the health care law having not been “extensively debated” and “fully transparent,” it was Jonathan Gruber himself who originally advised the administration that Obamacare would cause millions of Americans to lose their plans.

Last week, Nancy Pelosi stated that she did not even “know who [Jonathan Gruber] is.” In a matter of minutes, several outlets uncovered that Pelosi once referred to Gruber by name in a press release crafted by her office, and further, that she quoted “Jonathan Gruber of MIT’s analysis” in a 2009 interview.

On April 8, 2010, Jonathan Gruber himself cited his “Gruber analysis” in a memo released by the Center for American Progress. His memo was written as a defense of the necessity of the “individual mandate,” the requirement that all Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a fine. He referred to the “Gruber microsimulation model,” his model that produced the results Pelosi touted in the 2009 interview.

Wrote Gruber:

What would happen if we repealed the mandate?

Some critics have suggested repealing the mandate embedded in the PPACA, while retaining most of its more “popular” provisions. But such a policy would be disastrous for both the cost of insurance and the number of people covered.

I have developed the Gruber microsimulation model to estimate how health reforms would affect insurance markets; this is a very similar model to the one the Congressional Budget Office used to score the PPACA, and my model derives very similar to CBO. I can use this model to consider what would happen if Congress removed the mandate while keeping all other aspects of the law intact. I find that:

▪ Total insurance coverage would rise by fewer than 10 million persons rather than the 32 million persons estimated by CBO. The number of uninsured would be reduced by less than 20 percent rather than by about two-thirds.

▪ Employer-sponsored insurance, which is projected to erode by about 5 million persons under reform, would instead erode by over 20 million persons.

▪ The fully implemented cost of the legislation in 2019 would fall by only about 20 percent—we would spend 80 percent as much to cover fewer than one-third as many people.

Those who do not obtain coverage would be the healthiest individuals, causing enormous adverse selection in insurance markets. The average individual premium in the exchange would rise by about 40 percent without the mandate.