MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who is widely regarded as the principal architect of the Affordable Care Act, praised the Republican-backed health care legislation because he said it does not fully repeal the Obamacare bill. At the same time, Gruber criticized the GOP bill for cutting Medicaid.
Gruber made the comment Thursday to CNN host John Berman as Senate Republicans met behind closed doors to discuss the details of their plan to replace Obamacare. The House version of the purported "repeal and replace" bill is known as the American Health Care Act.
The Republican-led House of Representatives narrowly passed its version of the bill in a 217-213 vote. Twenty House Republicans joined with Democrats in opposing that bill. Key Senate leaders have been debating their own version of a "repeal and replace" bill behind closed doors for weeks — and released the text of the bill on Thursday.
CNN reported that the legislation includes major cuts to Medicaid and reductions in various Obamacare taxes, including taxes on the rich and health insurance providers. Any differences between the Senate version of the bill and the House version of the bill would require the House to vote on the measure again, and threaten to disrupt a very fragile compromise that was hammered out in the House.
The legislation would reportedly keep in place government subsidies to help lower income people purchase health insurance. The revelation regarding subsides comes after President Donald Trump said recently that he would like to see a Senate bill that "has heart."
"I hope we are going to surprise with a really good plan. You know I've been talking about a plan with heart. I said add some money to it. A plan with heart, but Obamacare is dead," Trump said Wednesday night during a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, according to CNN.
Trump reportedly called the House-passed bill "mean," despite the fact that he once celebrated its passage with House Republicans.
Berman asked Gruber Thursday if he agrees with the president that the Senate health care bill does, in fact, have more "heart."
"You know, I'm torn this morning," Gruber said. "On the one hand, this is no longer an Obamacare repeal bill. That's good."
"On the other hand," this is just a giant cut in Medicaid. That's what this bill now amounts to. And that's bad," Gruber added.
ACA architect Jonathan Gruber on the AHCA: "This is no longer an Obamacare repeal bill. That's good." https://t.co/vdwP2Ad3Sj
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) June 22, 2017