Jonathan Gruber is making the rounds on television again to tell us Obamacare is “working as designed.” Today he appeared on CNN to argue that, despite the 25% rate hikes for states using the national exchange, there wasn’t a problem with the law.
“Is Obamacare imploding?” CNN’s host asked Gruber. “No, Obamacare’s not imploding,” Gruber replied. Asked about the coming premium hikes for 2017 Gruber said, “First of all, the 22% 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.” He continued, “Eight-five percent of people who are buying insurance on the exchanges get subsidies and for those people this premium increase doesn’t affect them.”
Here again is the Obamacare proponent’s favorite statistic. Normally, I would give someone the benefit of the doubt on something like this but not Gruber. He demonstrated a long time ago that he’s not an honest broker. “Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever but basically that was really critical to getting the thing to pass,” Gruber once said when defending the tortured way in which the law was written. Gruber applauds deception in the selling of Obamacare:
So with that in mind, Gruber is once again trying to intentionally mislead the public. It’s true that 85% of people buying insurance “on the exchanges” are getting subsidies. However, as Gruber surely knows, as many as half the people buying Obamacare plans are not buying them on the exchanges. And none of those people buying off-exchange plans are getting any subsides at all. So the idea that the 22% increases only apply a “small fraction” is another attempt to deceive people about what is going on. Gruber knows the truth, he just doesn’t want viewers to know it.
As to how to “fix” Obamacare, Gruber said, “there’s no sense in which this has to be fixed. The law is working as designed.” He then added, “However, it could work better and I think probably the most important thing the experts would agree on is that we need a larger mandate penalty.”
What Gruber is admitting is that, as structured, not enough people want to buy Obamacare plans. In fact the enrollment is less than half of what CBO predicted at this point in time and is expected to rise only slightly next year. The way to fix this, Gruber says, is to make the penalty for not buying Obamacare significantly higher. Eventually, if you punish people hard enough for non-compliance, they will get with the program. Here’s the interview: