MIT professor Jonathan Gruber said Friday that his comments that appeared to endorse the view that Obamacare’s tax credits would not be available through HealthCare.gov were “just a mistake.”
“I honestly don’t remember why I said that,” he told The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn. “I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake.”
An online video surfaced late Thursday of Gruber speaking in 2012. In the video, when asked about Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, he appeared to say that the tax credits would not be available in states that used the federal website instead of setting up their own exchanges.
“At this time, there was also substantial uncertainty about whether the federal backstop would be ready on time for 2014,” Gruber told Cohn. “I might have been thinking that if the federal backstop wasn’t ready by 2014, and states hadn’t set up their own exchange, there was a risk that citizens couldn’t get the tax credits right away.”
Gruber noted that his own analysis assumed subsidies would be available in every state. He added that it was “never contemplated by anybody who modeled or worked on this law that availability of subsides would be conditional of who ran the exchanges.”
“There was never any intention to literally withhold money, to withhold tax credits, from the states that didn’t take that step,” Gruber said. “That’s clear in the intent of the law and if you talk to anybody who worked on the law. My subsequent statement was just a speak-o—you know, like a typo.”