Jonathan Gruber, an M.I.T. economist hired by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to help craft health care reform, sharply criticized the Republican presidential candidate for distinguishing between his bill and President Barack Obama's in an interview with Capital New York published Wednesday.
"They're the same f***ing bill. He [Romney] just can't have his cake and eat it too," Gruber said. "He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he's just lying. The only big difference is he didn't have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes."
The Huffington Post's Andrea Stone reported in May that Gruber called Romney's opposition to the health care law the president signed "largely political." Gruber also said Romney was "subtly hypocritical" and "misleading" for suggesting that if Massachusetts could devise its own health care law, then other states should be allowed to develop their own plans.
The health care bill Romney signed and the Affordable Care Act signed by Obama have substantial similarities. Both have individual and employer mandates and subsidies, establish health insurance exchanges, allow young adults to stay on their parents' insurance and prohibit insurers from denying people based on pre-existing conditions.
Romney has defended the law he signed but said that states should be able to develop their own health care laws. He favors repealing the health care law the president signed into law.
Gruber is a Democrat, and told The New Yorker that Romney never asked him about his political views. He also recalled that Romney argued for the individual mandate since it would eliminate the "free rider" problem of uninsured patients seeking care at emergency rooms. The White House also contacted Gruber to do the economic modeling for Obama's plan.
In the interview with Capital New York, Gruber also expressed frustration that the Supreme Court might decide the fate of health care on "political grounds." "It's very disturbing," he said. The Huffington Post's Mike Sacks reported that the high court is likely to make a decision on the constitutionality of the individual mandate at the end of June 2012.