Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber appeared on CNN Wednesday and defended the health care law as “working as designed.” This was in response to the expectation that premiums will be up to double-digit percentages by next year.
“Obamacare’s not imploding,” Gruber said to Newsroom's Carol Costello. “The main goal of Obamacare was two-fold. One was to cover the uninsured, of which we’ve covered 20 million, the largest expansion in American history. The other was to fix broken insurance markets where insurers could deny people insurance just because they were sick or they had been sick. Those have been fixed, and for the vast majority of Americans, costs in those markets have come down, thanks to the subsidies made available under Obamacare.”
Costello pushed back, citing deductible hikes that have gotten so out of hand people can’t go to the doctor because it’s too expensive. She also mentioned the 22% rate hike coming down the pike. But not to worry, according to Gruber:
"First of all, the 22 percent increase, let’s remember who that applies to. That applies to a very small fraction of people who have to buy insurance without the subsidies that are available. Eighty-five percent of people buying insurance on the exchanges get subsidies. And for those people, this 22 percent doesn’t affect them. Now, for the remaining people, that is a problem and that’s something we need to address, but it’s not a crisis. It doesn’t mean the system is collapsing. And most importantly, it doesn’t affect the 150 million Americans who get employer insurance who have actually seen their premiums fall dramatically as was expected before ObamaCare."
Gruber then went on to insist that the law as-is doesn’t need to be fixed but could be improved in the form of stiffer mandate penalties:
“We need a larger mandate penalty. We have individuals who are essentially free-riding on the system, they’re essentially waiting until they get sick and then getting health insurance. The whole idea of this plan, which was pioneered in Massachusetts, was that the individual mandate penalty would bring those people into the system and have them participate. The penalty right now is probably too low, and that’s something I think ideally we would fix.”
In other words, people unwilling to take government insurance when it was first crammed down their throats need it to be crammed harder. Is anybody else hearing this?
As far as the insurance providers that are leaving Obamacare in droves, Gruber thinks that’s great because it’s opening up spots for new insurers to step in and drive premiums down. So, suddenly he’s for capitalism and allowing the free market to dictate costs. Too bad that’s not built into the law.
“What you have to remember, is that premiums in 2014 came in way below what we expected,” Gruber said. “In fact, where they are today is exactly where they thought they’d be today. It’s just they came in lower than we thought, and they rose faster than we thought. And that’s just some of the unpredictability of a new market. That will settle down over time, and if — and new insurers will enter.”
So, no regrets here from Gruber; the man who thinks American voters are stupid. Besides higher penalties, he argues that the law “largely works.”