Vermont’s Attorney General has settled the state’s claims of fraud against Jonathan Gruber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who served as a technical consultant for President Barack Obama and as one of the chief architects of Obamacare.
Under the terms of the settlement, Gruber will no longer work as a taxpayer-funded economic consultant for the state’s health care system and he won’t seek to be paid any money he might be owed, reports the Rutland Herald, a Vermont newspaper.
For its part under the agreement, the Vermont’s attorney general will not pursue legal action under the Vermont Civil False Claims Act.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the settlement on Friday after state investigators wrapped up an inquiry into Gruber’s billing practices.
Officials in Vermont had hired Gruber as an economic consultant to assess, examine and provide economic models for a now-abandoned plan to roll out a single-payer health care system across the tiny state.
The single-payer health care scheme, called Green Mountain Care, was the brainchild of former Gov. Pete Shumlin.
Eventually, Shumlin, a Democrat, decided government-funded health care would be too costly for Vermont’s 625,000 citizens.
State Auditor Doug Hoffer, also a Democrat, originally referred allegations of Gruber’s overbilling to the attorney general.
Donovan, the attorney general and still another Democrat, said his office determined that Gruber did, in fact, violate the Vermont Civil False Claims Act, according to the Herald.
Specifically, investigators concluded that Gruber sent two invoices — and possibly more — falsely charging the state and its taxpayers for work which was never actually completed by Gruber or any of his underlings.
The dollar amounts sought by Gruber in the two invoices are not clear.
Under the terms of Gruber’s consulting contract, he was supposed to receive up to $400,000 for his policy advice concerning single-payer health care in Vermont.
Gruber denies committing any fraud.
Gruber became a household name in 2014, as Obamacare went into effect, after videos surfaced of him speaking candidly about how the Obama administration intentionally misled the American public about certain aspects of the bill.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass,” he said during one health care conference.
At another event, Gruber admitted that the Obama administration pushed through the so-called Cadillac tax — a tax on certain premium health care plans — “by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people, when we know it’s a tax on people who hold these insurance plans.”
Premiums under Obamacare went up 24 percent in 2016. The average number of insurers in each marketplace fell from 5.9 to 3.9.