Gruber visited Obama’s office as the Democratic Party’s “most influential health-care expert”
Despite his recent claim that Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber was just “some adviser who never worked on our staff,” President Obama said in 2006 that he had “stolen ideas” from Gruber “liberally.”
Then U.S. Senator Obama made reference to Gruber while giving a speech at the Brookings Institute, a D.C.-based liberal think tank, on April 5, 2006.
“You have already drawn some of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles, many of them I have stolen ideas from liberally, people ranging from Robert Gordon to Austan Goolsbee; Jon Gruber; my dear friend, Jim Wallis here, who can inform what are sometimes dry policy debates with a prophetic voice,” he said (emphasis added.)
Obama has been attempting to distance himself from Gruber this past week after the MIT professor famously said the “stupidity of the American voter” was key to getting Obamacare passed, which he helped develop.
But Gruber also revealed in 2012 that while he was developing key parts of Obamacare, the president asked him how the administration could disguise nightmarish facts about it from the American public.
“…The problem is it’s a political nightmare, and people say ‘no, you can’t tax my benefits,’ so what we did a lot in that room was think a lot about well how could we make this work?” He said about his meeting with Obama.”And [Obama] is really a realistic guy. He was like, ‘look, I can’t just do this.’”
“He said ‘it’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?’ And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.”
An undercover operation found that the majority of fake Obamacare applications submitted were approved by the health law’s enrollment system.
Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts, according to a report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The agency conducted the sting operation to test the strength of the Affordable Care Act’s eligibility-verification system.
The findings will be discussed at a House Ways and Means hearing Wednesday. They were revealed in an advance copy of the testimony from Seto Bagdoyan, head of GAO’s Forensic Audits and Investigative Service, provided to the Associated Press.
The undercover investigators created fake identities by inventing Social Security numbers, income, and citizenship, and by counterfeiting documents.
Eleven of 12 fake online or telephone applications were approved, according to Bagdoyan. Five of six phone applications were successful, with the exception of one caller who declined to give a Social Security number. Six online applications were initially blocked by the verification system, but the investigators were able to find a workaround by going through the call center.
“The total amount of these credits for the 11 approved applications is about $2,500 monthly or about $30,000 annually,” Bagdoyan said, according to a report from NBC. “We also obtained cost-sharing reduction subsidies, according to marketplace representatives, in at least nine of the 11 cases.”
The investigators did not have the same luck with in-person assistors: They were unable to get help in five of six cases, and the last was told by the assistor that the income reported was too high for subsidized coverage.
The accuracy of the health law’s eligibility verification system has been an ongoing concern among lawmakers and officials, and Republicans have repeatedly pointed to it as evidence that the law leaves the government vulnerable to fraud.
The GAO investigation was requested by several Republican senators and representatives before the insurance exchanges launched in the fall, according to The Washington Post.
The administration, meanwhile, maintains that it is working to improve the process.
“We are examining this report carefully and will work with GAO to identify additional strategies to strengthen our verification processes,” said administration spokesman Aaron Albright.