On Sunday, President Obama spoke out in defense of the Affordable Care Act, after comments from its original architect, Jonathan Gruber, called the bill’s transparency into question.
As previously reported, a video of Gruber saying that Obamacare was made to appeal to the “stupidity of the American voter,” with “lack of transparency” being a “huge political advantage,” in its creation, was released recently.
According to Reuters, Gruber’s comments were “quickly picked up” by Republicans in Congress, “who are committed to repealing or dismantling parts of the healthcare law.”
USA Today reported that Obama addressed Gruber’s comments while at a news conference after the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, and insisted that the bill was “extensively debated,” before it went into law in 2010.
“The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama said.
Although Gruber was not a member of the staff, Politico reported that he was a “paid consultant whose models were used to help assess the impact of various policy changes being considered as part of health care legislation,” and that “official logs show he visited the White House about a dozen times” from 2009 to 2014.
According to the Washington Post, Gruber’s comments should be taken seriously, due to the fact that he is “well-known in health-care circles as one of the intellectual godfathers of Obamacare,” and because he received “nearly $400,000” from the Obama administration for his contribution to the Affordable Care Act.
Obama went on to insist that if there were any questions, every press outlet present should “pull up every clip and every story,” that was written on the bill.
“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,” said Obama. “It was a tough debate.”
Among the controversial comments made by Jonathan Gruber, at an academic conference in October 2013, he also claimed that Obamacare was “written in a tortured way,” in order to ensure its approval from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.
According to the New York Times, while the Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats who were writing the law had “strong political incentives to ensure that the individual mandate they proposed would fit the CBO’s definition of things that don’t have to be counted on the federal government budget,” it is important to note that “the versions of Obamacare that received public discussion and debate never broke from that goal.”
Politico reported that although Obama had a “dismissive tone toward Gruber,” he has previously acknowledge that “some of his own statements about the law were ill-advised,” such as his “repeated promises that if Americans liked their health care plans they could keep them.”