Jonathan Gruber, the healthcare economist whose controversial comments about Obamacare have drawn fierce criticism in recent weeks, apologized Tuesday while under harsh interrogation by House Republicans.
“I’m a professor of economics at MIT. I’m not a politician or a political adviser,” Gruber said in his opening statement before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He apologized for statements he called “glib, thoughtless and sometimes downright insulting.”
Gruber, and supporters of the Affordable Care Act in general, came under fire last month after video clips surfaced of the economist suggesting the ACA was passed in a way intended to confuse the public. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever,” he said.
“I knew better, I know better, I’m embarrassed and I’m sorry,” Gruber said Tuesday. He insisted his comments were taken out of context and reflect a personal failing that should not reflect on the substance of the healthcare reform measure. “I behaved badly and I’ll have to live with that but my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
Committee Republicans leveled a harsh and sometimes insulting interrogation against Gruber.
“Are you stupid?” Committee Chairman Darrel Issa asked Gruber in his opening remarks. Issa questioned whether Gruber’s comments reflect substantive problems with the ACA and closed with a call for an independent audit of Gruber’s complex simulation model on the effect Obamacare would have on the cost of obtaining insurance, which was widely cited in debate over the ACA.