Former Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a recent interview, tried to downplay the role of controversial MIT professor Jonathan Gruber in the crafting of ObamaCare.
Gruber, often called an ObamaCare “architect,” came under fire recently for videos where he claimed the law passed thanks to the “stupidity of the American voter.”
Sebelius, who herself faced a backlash last year for the glitchy rollout of HealthCare.gov, said that despite being hired as a consultant for the bill, Gruber did not play a very important role in its creation.
In the interview with USA Today, she also claimed they never personally met to discuss it.
“Maybe he was in a large room; he could have been on a phone call, but in terms of small meetings, discussing policy, that never happened,” she said.
The former Kansas governor worries that Gruber’s political “misstep” will detract from the ACA’s positives.
“He was not author of the bill itself. He did not influence the members of Congress who actually wrote the legislation. He is making some headlines, which is unfortunate because I think he’s harming the very product that he helped to push forward.”
Nevertheless, Sebelius seemed to echo some of Gruber’s views about the financial aptitude of Americans.
She said terms like “deductible” and “co-pay” are “complicated” terms for a lot of Americans, and cited that confusion in the response to the law.
“A lot of Americans have no idea what insurance is about,” Sebelius said. “I think the financial literacy of a lot of people, particularly people who did not have insurance coverage or whose employers chose their coverage and kind of present it to them, is very low—and that has been sort of a stunning revelation. It’s not because people hide it from folks. It’s because this is a complicated product.”
Still, she said she is confident that focusing on universal health care was the right move.
Gruber is set to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week.
On that hearing, Sebelius told USA Today, “I have no idea what Gruber is going to say, but frankly, I don’t think that it’s relevant in terms of what happened.”