GOP Rep. Mica Grills Gruber: Consultants Enriched Themselves While We Still Have 40 Million People Uninsured

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REP. JOHN MICA (R-FL): Miss Tavenner, when we started all of this, we had, I heard between 44 and 45 million people that were uninsured. That was just a general figure I heard. Is that what you would estimate?

MARILYN TAVENNER, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES ADMIN: I don't have that number --

MICA: Well, okay you should have the number, particularly in your position. But we'll just say 44. I'll take the lower number. Now you came and you gave us some statistics, last May -- 7.3 million signed up and then that was revised and you apologized today for the the error that at least you claim it. That's 6.9 million people, approximately. There are somewhere between 4 million and 5 million people who had insurance before we had Obamacare that lost their insurance coverage. That's the estimate I've heard. Would you agree with that?

TAVENNER: I don't know that number.

MICA: Okay. Well again I think you should because this is important. THe whole thing is how many people are we covering? If we have 44 million, and you had 4 million or 5 million people that were insured, I'm one of the people. One reason you probably don't have more admissions is my deductible is three times as much. My premiums have gone up. The premiums I would say for most Americans listening or participating have gone up Unless you're involved in some other health care system, your premiums have gone up.

We've seen an exception. I have family who've had pre-existing conditionS, and actually I've seen what they're doing. They are gaming the system. They get the service, and then they drop the care. So, that's also gone down as far as admissions. One reason for less admissions, and less spending.

Dr. Gruber, you're one of the architects of this plan?

DR. JONATHAN GRUBER: I was an economic advisor.

MICA: Modeling. You did the modeling? You were a contractor?

GRUBER: Yes.

MICA: One of, I understand, about 60 contractors? What did you -- what was your payment for your contract work with the HHS?

GRUBER: I was paid less than $400,000.

MICA: $400,000. And I heard that was a sole source contract too? Nice way to go. Was that a sole source?

GRUBER: I -- I don't exactly know.

MICA: Well, did you compete, or did you have -- you got a sole source contract, I'm told.

GRUBER: I --

MICA: Okay, I'll leave it at that. You got a sole source contract according to the information I have. Nice way to go. The other thing is, then you went out to about eight states. Did you have contracts with a number of states afterwards?

GRUBER: Yes, I worked with a number of states afterwards.

MICA: And I heard you got between $200,000 and $400,000 a pop from them. My estimate that I've been told by staff is you took down about $2.5 million in this?

GRUBER: The number --

MICA: All the money from health care from your involvement, again, about eight states. Am I right?

GRUBER: I don't recall the exact number of states.

MICA: You can't recall. Well, again, I think it would be helpful if you could supply the committee the amount of money, and I'm told it's over $2.5 million. You're just one of the vendors. Some of them had contracts for more than $1 billion. But the whole thing gets back to people that we have that are still uninsured. We have, according to the document I've got, 41 million people still don't have health care. Would you agree with that number?

TAVENNER: I don't know which document you're referring to.

MICA: The latest -- the document that we had presented to us says 41 million Americans still don't have health care. So we've covered somewhere between 3 million and 4 million and billions of dollars of cost while it raised most people's premiums --

TAVENNER: I think if you look at it outside sources they would tell you that the uninsured rate --

MICA: We have over 40 million people without health insurance. This isn't a success in my estimation. I'd like to get and divide the billions of dollars we've spent on this program because the consultants who took advantage of it, and enriched themselves, and we still have 40-some million people [uninsured]. And we can address pre-existing conditions, Mr. [Ari] Goldmann, and Miss Tavenner, Dr. Gruber. We can also increase the age to 26 for coverage, some of the things that were done. And positive things that I think needed to be done.

But do we need -- do we need the bureaucracy, do we need the people who have fed off the public trough in the billions of dollars? One of the contractors that I looked at in a previous hearing had gotten a contract for over a billion dollars and people supposedly came to work on verifying information, and never -- never worked. So people were paid not to work. People were paid to help design the system and then profited it and took the money away. To me that's not a very good story.

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