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Obamacare Architect Apologizes For Remarks On The Law's Passage

One of the main architects of the Affordable Care Act is being criticized for comments made last year in which he said the "stupidity of the American voter" was critical in getting the law to pass.

Video surfaced this week of Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who also helped create "Romneycare" in Massachusetts, speaking at a health care forum at the University of Pennsylvania in October 2013. His comments during that forum have incensed many critics of the federal health care law, which is also known as "Obamacare."

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," he said. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."

Criticism of the remarks was swift. As The Washington Post reported, conservatives said the remarks "served as an admission of intentional deceit by the Affordable Care Act's architects."

In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, Gruber apologized, saying he had been "speaking off the cuff."

But Tuesday evening, Fox News reported on another video from last year that features Gruber. In that video, he discusses the tax on high-end health plans.

"They proposed it, and that passed because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference," he says.

Rich Weinstein, the man who unearthed the first video, tweeted Wednesday:

Weinstein, as Bloomberg Politics points out in a profile, is "also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act." Here's more:

"Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created 'Romneycare' and the Congress when it created 'Obamacare.' Conservatives had been looking for ways to demonstrate that the wording of the ACA denied insurance subsidies to consumers in states that did not create their own health exchanges. Weinstein found a clip of Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA's subsidies; it went straight into the King v. Burwell brief, and into a case that's currently headed to the Supreme Court."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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