Jonathan Gruber is on the record in a Supreme Court case that could unravel parts of Obamacare.
Gruber's name is mentioned six time in a brief filed by the plaintiffs challenging the health care law in King v. Burwell. The plaintiffs argue that Obamacare subsidies can only go to people in states that created their own state exchanges, which would mean millions of people who get an insurance plan from the federal healthcare.gov exchange would be ineligible.
The Obama administration and other Democrats contend the language was just a drafting order. But recently unearthed comments by Gruber, an MIT economist who consulted in drafting the Affordable Care Act, imply a more literal meaning.
“If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits … I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges, and that they’ll do it.” Gruber said in January 2012.
The court documents refer to a YouTube video at the 32-minute mark:
The plaintiff brief goes on to identify how Gruber is characterized by media reports as a “key architect” of the Affordable Care Act who was paid “close to $400,000 as a consultant” by the Department of Health and Human Services during 2009 and 2010, according to a Nov. 15 New York Times story. Another Times article on March 29 said Gruber helped congressional staff “draft the specifics of the legislation.”
Gruber made news earlier this year about for talking about the “stupidity of the American voter” in selling Obamacare.
Democrats have warned that $65 billion in funding could be at stake in the lawsuit, The Hill reported.
The high court will hear the case on March 4, 2015.
“From the outset of this case we have argued that the Obamacare statute clearly limits subsidies to exchanges established by states,” Michael Carving, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in in a statement, according to The Hill. “[Our position] is further supported by factors ranging from the law’s legislative history and lower court rulings to Jonathan Gruber’s recently rediscovered statements.”