Jonathan Gruber videos are getting a lot of views on YouTube these days, and one of the latest Obamacare opponents are focusing on reveals some more undiplomatic comments about how Massachusetts paid for its health-care expansion under then-Gov. Mitt Romney.
This was Gruber, the MIT health economist, speaking back in 2012 (near the 12 minute mark):
The dirty secret in Massachusetts is the feds paid for our bill, OK? In Massachusetts, we had a very powerful Senator you may know. His name is Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy had basically figured out — Ted Kennedy and smart people in Massachusetts — had figured out a way to rip off the Feds for $400 million a year.
He's talking about the deal from the federal government that helped Massachusetts set up its 2006 coverage expansion, which later became the basis for the Affordable Care Act. It's hardly a secret. And Bush re-authorized the deal in 2008.
The short story is basically this: Massachusetts, since the late 1990s, had been receiving special Medicaid funds through a waiver to fund care for populations the program traditionally didn't cover. In 2005, President George W. Bush wanted to end that funding, worth about $350 million. But Kennedy, working with Romney, put together a deal to keep the funds and then some by expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help low-income people purchase private insurance. The Bush administration signed off on that deal, giving us Romneycare, which then gave us Obamacare.
That state Medicaid waiver has been renegotiated three times since then, including earlier this month.
So, not a secret. Just some more "off-the-cuff" comments from an intelligent guy who never thought he'd have to be so careful in his language.