Obamacare architect in trouble again for mocking critics

Dylan Stableford
Economist Jonathan Gruber speaks at a conference of the Workers Compensation Research Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, March 12, 2014. Dr. Gruber is a professor at MIT and the architect of the healthcare reform laws in Massachusetts and the American Affordable Care Act. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT)

An economist who helped create the Affordable Care Act is under fire for yet another old video that shows him mocking someone who expressed concern about the law.

In it, Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor and one of the key architects of Obamacare, appears before the Vermont House Health Care committee in 2011 to present his idea for health care reform.

When a state representative relayed a Vermonter’s concerns about the law — “ballooning costs, increased taxes, bureaucratic outrages, shabby facilities, disgruntled providers, long waiting times, lower-quality care, special interest nest-feathering and destructive wages and price controls” — Gruber joked: “Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?”

In reality, it was written by John McClaughry, a former Vermont state senator and adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

“It was actually written by a former senior policy adviser in the White House who knew something about health care systems,” the state representative replied.

The video is the latest in a series showing Gruber dismissing critics of the law.

In another, taken during an October 2013 academic conference, Gruber says a "lack of transparency" was crucial in getting the health care law passed.

"If you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in — you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passed," Gruber said in the video posted online last week. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass."

On Tuesday, Gruber said the comments were "inappropriate."

“I was speaking off the cuff and I basically spoke inappropriately, and I regret having made those comments," he said on MSNBC.

In another 2013 video released this week, Gruber was seen telling an audience that Democrats altered the language of the bill to gather public support because "Americans are too stupid to understand the difference."

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010.

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers said they may call Gruber to testify before Congress about his remarks.

“The strategy was to hide the truth from the American people,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told the Washington Post. “That is a threat to the American republic.”

The White House sought to distance itself from Gruber's comments.

“The tax credits in the law that help millions of middle class Americans afford coverage were no secret, and in fact were central to the legislation," White House spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said in a statement. "Not only do we disagree with [Gruber’s] comments, they’re simply not true.”

In July, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin announced that the state had hired Gruber to advise health officials on how to finance Vermont’s new single-payer health care system.

That arrangement is now under review.

“I was completely unaware of his comment at the time we hired him, and I’m frankly appalled. It does not represent how we believe it should be done,” Lawrence Miller, chief of health care reform for the Shumlin administration, told the Vermont Watchdog on Wednesday. “I’ll be reviewing a variety of elements in light of his comments."