News Story

Michigan Paid 'Stupidity of American Voter' Obamacare Architect $481,050

Representative-elect asks for investigation

A consultant considered an architect to the federal health care law who said a “lack of transparency” and “stupidity of the American voter” were critical to getting it passed reportedly received $481,050 from the state of Michigan, and a recently elected state representative said he wants an investigation.

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who created an econometric model intended to project health care spending and costs under different assumptions, along with his team, was granted a $481,050 contract by the state of Michigan, according to the Washington Post. He was paid that to help set up a state health-insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Washington Post reported that Gruber received similar payments from three other states, but Michigan paid the consultant $81,050 more than any other state.

Gruber was paid the $481,050 even though the Michigan Legislature did not authorize creating a state-level exchange. In 2012, the Senate approved legislation authorizing one but the House declined, with the result that Michigan currently has an exchange run by the federal government.

In some cases Gruber worked with other consultants, so the fees may have been shared.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it will consider a case challenging the authority of a federally run exchange to distribute the health care law’s subsidies, without which its “employer mandate” may not be imposed in a state.

Gruber has been widely criticized for comments on a recently discovered video where he said, "If you have a law that makes explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it wouldn't have passed. 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 critical to getting the thing to pass."

Rep.-elect Gary Glenn, R-Midland, said Saturday he will formally request Monday that the state House of Representatives Research Services Division investigate why Michigan’s payment was more than what Wisconsin ($400,000), Vermont ($400,000) and Minnesota ($329,000) paid.

Glenn will request that State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, and State Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee, investigate the state’s deal with Gruber.

Rep. McMillin said he’d ask the Department of Community Health how Gruber was selected and what services he provided for the money.

“Mr. Gruber appears to be a very devious man – perhaps with a proclivity for fraud,” Rep. McMillin said in an email. “Based on the info I receive, I’ll decide if a hearing is warranted.”


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Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.