MONTPELIER — Jonathan Gruber, the contractor under fire for degrading remarks he’s made in the past several years about voters and a Vermont commentator, will be expected to complete economic modeling for the state but will not receive any more pay, according to state officials.
Chief of Health Care Reform Lawrence Miller reiterated the Shumlin administration’s disappointment with Gruber’s comments on Wednesday. He also said Gruber has been informed that he will not receive further payment on the $400,000 contracted agreed to in July.
Gruber and his team have been paid a total of $160,000 so far, according to Scott Coriell, a spokesman for Gov. Peter Shumlin.
“As the Governor and I have said, the comments by Mr. Gruber are offensive, inappropriate and do not reflect the thinking of this administration or how we do things in Vermont. As we have also said, we need solid economic modeling in order to move forward with health care reform,” Miller said in a statement to the Vermont Press Bureau Wednesday afternoon. “I have told Mr. Gruber that I expect his team to complete the work that we need to provide the legislature and Vermonters with a public health care financing plan. I’ve informed Mr. Gruber that we will not be paying him any further for his part in completing that work.”
Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, has a personal services contract with Vermont that will pay him up to $400,000 to test economic models related to Shumlin’s universal, publicly-financed health care proposal. Another $50,000 can be used to subcontract with Moody’s Analytics for macroeconomic modeling.
The contract allows the the state to use the Gruber Microsimulation Model that Gruber developed to simulate the implementation of Shumlin’s plan and test various financing mechanisms.
Gruber, who has served as a health care advisor for the Obama administration, has also inked contracts with the federal government and other states for his unique economic modeling capabilities.
His work is now being questioned, and calls for his firing becoming more frequent, especially from Republicans in Vermont and elsewhere, because of questionable comments he has made on several occasions in the last several years.
During a 2011 hearing of the House Health Care Committee, then-Chairman Mark Larson read aloud comments written by John McClaughry, a former state senator and policy advisor for President Ronald Reagan. McClaughry, in his published commentary, said Shumlin’s health care proposal would lead to higher taxes, ballooning costs, poor health care facilities, disgruntled providers and long waits for care, among other concerns.
“Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?” Gruber asks on a video recorded by True North Reports and released last week to the online site Watchdog.org.
In other videos that came to light last week Gruber credited “the stupidity of the American voter” with getting the federal Affordable Care Act passed.
In his statement, Miller said the work completed by Gruber will be verified by independent sources.
“As planned, following the completion of the financing plan, the assumptions and results will be fully evaluated by the other economists, including the joint fiscal office, who are advising the administration and the legislature on this matter,” Miller said.
Gruber declined to comment via email Wednesday.