Health-care economist Jonathan Gruber is at no risk of being put out on the street after comments emerged this week where he credited “the stupidity of the American voter” for the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
After all, Gruber’s still getting paid—receiving $400,000 from the state of Vermont to help build a single-payer health-care system in the Green Mountain State.
The MIT professor, who advised both Mitt Romney on Romneycare in Massachusetts and the White House on the design of Obamacare, has been taking heat for statements he made about the ACA at a 2013 panel. Among the comments that emerged: praising the lack of transparency in the nearly 2,000-page piece of legislation that kept the individual mandate from being viewed as a tax, as well as his claim “if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.” Those remarks have become a cause célèbre in conservative circles, and the right-wing blogosphere has leapt at any further video of the MIT professor veering off-message in the slightest way.
Yet while conservatives rage about what they call Grubergate, including a video that features the economist making fun of a Vermont resident, Gruber is still getting paid by taxpayers in the Green Mountain State.
In July, Gruber was awarded a contract to study how Vermont could best raise the revenue to fund the estimated $2 billion cost of a statewide single-payer health-care system. Incidentally, Gruber had been one of the original academics who drafted the original proposal for the state to adopt a single-payer healthcare system in 2010. Despite the legislature approving a bill to implement single-payer health care in the state three years ago, no plan for funding the initiative has been made public. Gruber’s contract is to come up with an adequate scheme to fund what will be one of the most ambitious state health-care programs in the country.
No matter what method he proposes, Gruber’s plans are likely to get heavily scrutinized in the wake of his newfound Internet infamy.