Watch Josh Earnest grapple with Harvard professors’ criticisms of Obamacare

Kudos to the Washington Free Beacon for posting this clip. It is delightful.

As Mary Katharine observed yesterday, the professors at Harvard University unleashed the “incredible whining of an incredibly privileged set” when they learned that they would have to live under many of their own policy recommendations that made their way into the Affordable Care Act.


If you think it’s just slightly hypocritical for these figures, many of whom vocally supported the health care overhaul, to complain about their rising health care costs, you’re not alone. This point of view is probably shared by many members of the Obama administration.

On Tuesday, Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry asked White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest for his take on this condescension from the Harvard faculty. Earnest’s response suggested that the administration is pretty frustrated with their erstwhile allies at the Ivy League university.

Earnest noted, as did Mary Katharine, that Harvard’s health care costs are relatively low compared to the public at large, and that their complaining was a contemptible product of their fortunate station in life. Though he didn’t use those precise words.

“Harvard is citing that the law itself is raising health care costs,” Henry observed. “Isn’t that the opposite of what the White House says?”

“Everybody who is on the Harvard faculty can get a free, annual checkup from their doctor,” Earnest eventually got around to replying. “And, again, that’s thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”

“Nobody at Harvard who has a preexisting condition can ever be discriminated against again because of that preexisting condition,” he continued. “And every Harvard professor who has an old child can keep that child on their quality Harvard insurance up to age 26.”


The terms they come up with these days. Back in the ‘90s, we used to call an “old child” an adult.

The tired repetition of talking points about the ACA is as good an indication as any that the administration never saw this betrayal coming. What’s more, they’re probably pretty peeved about it. One of the administration’s preferred outlets through which they disseminate information, Think Progress, sure is.

Despite the frustration over the impending policy changes, Harvard professors still enjoy particularly generous benefits. Their new plan will cover an average of 91 percent of their health costs, and their new annual deductibles are still much lower than the average deductibles for people with employer-sponsored insurance. On average, individual deductibles grew from $826 in 2009 to $1,217 in 2014.

“The changes in Harvard faculty benefits are parallel to changes that all Americans are seeing,” Meredith B. Rosenthal, a professor of health economics and policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, told the New York Times. “Indeed, they have come to our front door much later than to others.”

Translation: Shut up, Harvard. You’re running everything.

While Think Progress did a far better job of countering the Harvard Faculty’s claims about the ACA than did Earnest, Obamacare’s opponents will forever be able to play the Harvard card. From today until the day the law is repealed, they will cite the Gruber-esque condescension of those who imagined themselves the betters of the unwashed masses for whom this law was crafted. The university’s faculty always imagined themselves better than the hoi polloi who would consume this law’s products. They chafe at the loss of their patrician license.


This is yet another political blow to the ACA. With Republicans taking control of Congress for the final years of the Obama presidency, it couldn’t come at a worse time for Obamacare’s supporters.

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Jazz Shaw 3:00 PM | June 13, 2024