The challengers got a boost Thursday evening when a video surfaced showing Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber, an adviser to the Obama administration during the drafting of the health care law, saying in 2012 that subsidies weren’t available on federal exchanges.
Gruber’s remarks, seen in a video discovered by a commenter on the conservative legal blog Volokh Conspiracy named Rich Weinstein, were publicized by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative group backing the lawsuits. Here’s an excerpt, which begins about 30 minutes in.
What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits— but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that 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. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this....
Gruber told The New Republic that he had made a mistake.
“I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it,” Gruber told The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn. “But there was never any intention to literally withhold money, to withhold tax credits, from the states that didn’t take that step. 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.”
A second recording has surfaced showing Gruber making similar statements about subsidies not being available on federally run exchanges. Asked over email whether those remarks were a mistake, too, Gruber wrote back, “same answer.”