Gruber: ‘A Larger Mandate Penalty’ Will Make Obamacare ‘Work Better’

By Eric Scheiner | October 27, 2016 | 11:08am EDT
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber (AP Photo)

( - One of Obamacare's architects, Jonathan Gruber, says the government run healthcare plan doesn’t need to be “fixed” it just needs “a larger mandate penalty.”

Speaking on CNN Wednesday, the MIT economics professor defended Obamacare and its price increases for participating healthcare plans across the country.

 “Look, once again - there is no sense in which this has to be fixed, the law is working as designed,” Gruber said. “However, it could work better – and I think probably the most important thing experts would agree on is that we need a larger mandate penalty.”

“We have individuals who are essentially free-riding on the system, they're essentially waiting until they get sick and then getting health insurance. The whole idea of this plan, which was pioneered in Massachusetts, was that the individual mandate penalty would bring those people into the system and have them participate.”

“The penalty right now is probably too low and I think that’s something that ideally we would fix,” Gruber added.

When the Supreme Court ruled President Obama’s Affordable Care Act constitutional, they did so by claiming the individual mandate payment for not having insurance was a tax instead of a penalty.

In his majority opinion, Justice John Roberts wrote, “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

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