Obamacare Foes Use Its Architect’s Odd Subsidy Comments In SCOTUS Brief


MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, a key Obamacare architect, generated significant debate last week when a 2012 video surfaced in which he appeared to agree with the law’s current legal challengers: Subsidies are not available on the federal insurance marketplace. Now those comments have made an appearance in a U.S. Supreme Court brief asking the high court to take up the issue.

The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell asked the Supreme Court Thursday to take their case. They lost their lawsuit, one of several challenging the subsides, before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last week. Rather than appeal to the full appeals court, they took it straight to the Supreme Court.

In their new brief, the plaintiffs point to Gruber’s comments to bolster their position: “The robust incentives provided by the ACA — in particular, the conditioning of tax credits on state-run exchanges — were thought sufficient to do so. As one of the Act’s architects, Prof. Jonathan Gruber, later explained …”

They then quoted Gruber in the newly publicized video, in which he appears to say that states had to set up their own insurance exchange for their residents to receive tax credits under the law.

“If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits,” Gruber says in the video. “I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it.”

Gruber, who was heavily consulted by Congress and the White House during Obamacare’s drafting, has since said that the comments were “just a mistake.”