Jonathan Gruber is still the gift that keeps on giving if you cover the political beat. Or perhaps in this case, the gift that keeps on taking. A review of the books seems to indicate that Mr. Gruber submitted some interesting invoices to the state of Vermont for his work on the development of the now abandoned Green Mountain Care single payer plan. Unfortunately, they may have been overstated.
In a 54-page memo, Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer confirms that embattled Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber overbilled the state in invoices he submitted for work Gruber claims was performed by research assistants.
“The evidence suggests that Dr. Gruber overstated the hours worked by the RA, but we have insufficient documentation to say any more about his inconsistencies and questionable billing practices. I have referred the matter to the Attorney General for his consideration, which is standard procedure in such circumstances,” Hoffer said in the conclusion of his memo, released Monday.
As they say, the devil is in the details.
The State of Vermont entered into a personal services contract with Dr. Jonathan Gruber in July 2014 for the purpose of “research and economic modeling related to the implementation of Green Mountain Care as passed into law as Act 48 of 2011” (contract #272771). Following news reports of certain remarks made by Dr. Gruber, the administration renegotiated the contract with Dr. Gruber in November 2014. Subsequent public records requests yielded invoices and other documents that raised questions about Dr. Gruber’s billing practices and the State’s monitoring and enforcement of particular contract provisions.
Ah, those stupid Americans. But Gruber may have been on to something when he made those comments. After all, his deal with Vermont had him billing the state at a rate of $500 per hour to the tune of one thousand hours. If you can convince somebody that your time is worth 500 bucks an hour and you’re not performing brain surgery on them, you’ve got to be a pretty good negotiator. (Either that, or the government reps who agreed to it are idiots.)
The question at this point should probably be whether or not anyone is currently scouring the books for all the work Gruber did on Obamacare. Less than a year ago, Jonathan Gruber was just a name on some invoices which attracted no attention from the public. But now he is the object of intense scrutiny, and if he was overbilling customers in Vermont, might this be a practice which he employed in other aspects of his business dealings? If Gruber assumes he’s generally dealing with stupid people, who knows what we might find in those invoices?