Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gruber Still Lying About Obamacare

A stable human being, having earned national notoriety by admitting that he participated in a conspiracy to deceive the voters on an important public policy issue, would not expect them to believe anything else he had to say on the subject. This would be particularly true if he had also said that the deception was predicated on the stupidity of those voters. Jonathan Gruber committed both offences, of course, but he evidently isn’t “stable” in the way psychiatrists use the term. He not only expects to be taken seriously on the same issue, he’s still trying to deceive the public.
Gruber, in case you have forgotten, is the MIT economics professor who frequently referred to himself as the “father of Obamacare” during the long health reform debate that culminated in the passage of the ironically titled “Affordable Care Act.” He became an unperson two years ago when a video emerged in which he delivered himself of the following words of wisdom concerning the law: “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.”
Now, he’s attempting to make a comeback by defending the “reform” law from repeal. In an opinion piece published yesterday in the NewYork Daily News, Gruber demonstrated that he still thinks we’re a bunch of brain dead morons. He begins by telling the long-suffering readers of that publication that the law has been a success. In support of this preposterous claim, he offers the same talking points we have been getting from the Obama administration. He glibly repeats, for example, the following whopper: “Twenty million Americans have gained insurance coverage.”
This figure was long ago abandoned by all but the most dishonest Obamacare pimps. It first originated in a widely panned report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. When this work of bad fiction first appeared, Reason’s Peter Suderman debunked it in a column titled, “No, 20 Million Haven’t ‘Gained Coverage’ Under Obamacare,” where he pointed out that the report indiscriminately included anyone who bought insurance: “It’s a count of people obtaining coverage, whether or not they had it before, not people who were previously uninsured.”
Another lie Gruber repeats in yesterday’s piece is this long-ago-debunked tale: “Since the ACA’s passage, health-care costs have grown at their slowest rate in measured U.S. history; the innovative cost controls put in place by the law are one important reason why.” He knows perfectly well that this slowdown in health care inflation has nothing to do with Obamacare. As this report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid shows, the slowdown began seven years before the “Affordable Care Act” passed. Gruber hopes his readers are too dumb to know that.
Gruber also claims that the most hated of Obamacare’s provisions, the individual mandate, can’t be repealed because it is needed to “bring the healthy into the insurance pool.” He doesn’t tell us where he has been hiding out since his fall from grace two years ago. But, unless he has been locked up and denied access to newspapers, the internet, television, twitter, etc., he will have noticed that the individual mandate just isn’t working. He knows that, of course. A more plausible explanation is that Dr. Gruber still thinks his readers are just too “stupid” to know the truth.
He is posing as the only person in the galaxy who doesn’t know that the mandate has failed to “bring the healthy into the insurance pool.” As Modern Healthcare reports, “Only 28% of exchange members in 2014 were in the coveted 18-34 age range, and that percentage stayed level for 2016. It’s below the 40% level many actuaries say is needed.” In other words, the individual mandate that Dr. Gruber and Obamacare’s other architects insisted upon over the objections of the electorate has not prevented the adverse selection problem it was ostensibly meant to forestall.
Yet the absent-minded professor still writes, “without the mandate, insurers will be unwilling to offer insurance.” It beggars belief that he is still peddling this nonsense. He knows perfectly well that insurers have stampeded for Obamacare’s exits, including big players like Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare. The Heritage Foundation estimates that least 45 insurers have voluntarily abandoned or been forced to leave the exchanges. And, according to a recent Bloomberg report, Anthem may well follow suit if the situation doesn’t begin to show signs of improvement.
Dr. Gruber wraps up his column with the following howler: “Repealing the ACA would be a major step backwards from the most innovative health-care cost control legislation of our lifetime.” Then he warns “objective journalists” and the public in general to watch for various underhanded strategies that evil Obamacare opponents will use to carry out the will of the voters. My favorite is this ironic admonition: “They will tell us to ‘trust them’ when they say that their alternative is better than the existing law.… On this issue, they don’t deserve our trust.”
Well, he is certainly an authority on who is likely to lie to us, like a group of politicians who would pass a law containing several thousand pages of obscure verbiage and refuse to let us read it because we’re too stupid to know what’s good for us. Presumably, Gruber would warn us to beware of House Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and President Trump if they say, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Good advice, but do they view us with the cold contempt we see in the eyes of Democrats and Ivy League professors?



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