Jonathan Gruber (economist)

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For other people of the same name, see Jonathan Gruber (disambiguation).
Jonathan Gruber
Born (1965-09-30) September 30, 1965 (age 48)
Nationality American
Institution MIT
Field Health economics
Alma mater Harvard University (PhD, 1992)
MIT (BSc, 1987)
Information at IDEAS/RePEc

Jonathan Holmes Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992. He is also the director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a research associate. He is an associate editor of both the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Health Economics. In 2009 he was elected to the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association.


He was born on September 30, 1965. He completed his BS in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1992 with thesis titled Changes in the Structure of Employer-Provided Health Insurance.[1] He began his career as an assistant professor of economics at MIT. [2] Currently, [clarification needed] he is a professor of economics at MIT. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. [3]

HHS Controversy[edit]

In January 2010, after news emerged that Gruber was under a $297,000 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, while at the same time promoting the Obama administration's health care reform policies, many suggested a conflict of interest.[4][5][6]

While he did disclose his HHS connections in an article for the New England Journal of Medicine, he did not do so in earlier articles in major publications, which he either authored, or in which he was prominently cited. The New York Times published a clarification, noting he failed to disclose his government ties, as their paper requires, before publishing op-eds.[7] Ezra Klein (of The Washington Post) and Ronald Brownstein (of The Atlantic) issued statements to this effect.[8][9]

The conservative Americans for Tax Reform organization has called for Gruber to return the DHS money from his contract, due to his lack of disclosure.[10] Liberal commentator Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake Action criticized Gruber and the Obama administration for this lack of transparency.[11]


Gruber's research has focused on public finance and health economics. He has published more than 140 research articles, has edited six research volumes. He is a co-editor of the Journal of Public Economics, an associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics, and the author of Public Finance and Public Policy.[12] and Health Care Reform, a graphic novel delineating the Affordable Care Act.[citation needed]

In 2006, he received the American Society of Health Economists Inaugural Medal for the best health economist in the nation aged 40 and under.[13] He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine in 2005.[14]

Public service[edit]

During the 1997–1998 academic year, Gruber was on leave as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department. From 2003–06 he was a key architect of Massachusetts' healthcare reform. In 2006 he became an inaugural member of the Health Connector Board, the main implementing body for that effort. In that year, he was named the 19th most powerful person in health care in the United States by Modern Healthcare magazine. During the 2008 election he was a consultant to the Clinton, Edwards and Obama presidential campaigns. In 2009–10 he served as a technical consultant to the Obama Administration and worked with both the administration and Congress to help craft the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). [15]

On July 24, 2014, a commentator on the Volokh Conspiracy blog, Rich Weinstein, posted a January 2012 video of Gruber telling an audience of health care professionals that under PPACA federal income tax credits would not be available to customers who purchased insurance on federal, as opposed to state, health care exchanges. His full quote is: "Yeah, so these health-insurance Exchanges, you can go on and see ours in Massachusetts, will be these new shopping places and they’ll be the place that people go to get their subsidies for health insurance. In the law, it says if the states don’t provide them, the federal backstop will. The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it. I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this." [16] In response to inquiries from New Republic author Jonathan Cohn regarding his statement in 2012 about federal exchanges, Gruber stated on July 25, 2014 that in 2012 he was speaking "off the cuff" and that he had made a "mistake". The controversy arose in connection with federal lawsuits claiming that the plain language of the PPACA precluded consumers who purchase health insurance on federal exchanges from receiving income tax credits. In July 2014, two federal circuit courts of appeal, the DC circuit and the 4th circuit, split on the question of whether PPACA authorized credits for customers who purchased health insurance on federal, as opposed to state, exchanges.

On July 25, 2014, a second recording was posted on Youtube of Gruber speaking at a separate event in January of 2012. In this audio recording, Gruber says, "Maybe most important of all is role of the States. Through political compromise, the decision was made that states should play a critical role in running these health insurance exchanges... Now a number of states have expressed no interest in doing so... I guess I am enough of a believer in democracy to think that when the voters in states see that by not setting up an exchange, the politicians in those states are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions and billions and billions of dollars, that they will eventually throw the guys out. But, I don't know that for sure." [17]

Published works[edit]

  • On February 15, 2006, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published an article by Gruber entitled "The Cost and Coverage Impact of the President's Health Insurance Budget Proposals"[18]
  • In a December 4, 2008 New York Times op-ed, "Medicine for the Job Market", he claimed that expanding health insurance, even in difficult financial times would stimulate the economy.[19]
  • On February 9, 2011, the Center for American Progress published an article by Gruber titled "Health Care Reform Without the Individual Mandate," analyzing the health insurance coverage impacts of alternative policy options for encouraging purchase of health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the mandate, a late penalty, and auto-enrollment.[20]

He has published over 100 research articles.[21]


  1. ^ Gruber, John. "Changes in the structure of employer-provided health insurance". ProQuest. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  2. ^ > Retrieved 25 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ > Retrieved 25 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ James, Michael (January 9, 2010). "On Jonathan Gruber and Disclosure". ABC News. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Jonathan Gruber Failed to Disclose His $297,600 Contract With HHS". Huffington Post. May 25, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  6. ^ Berger, Judson (January 8, 2010). "Economist Was Under Contract With HHS While Touting Health Reform Bill". Fox News. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Corrections: Editor's Note". New York Times. January 9, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ Klein, Ezra. Jon Gruber profile at, January 8, 2010; accessed January 13, 2010.
  9. ^ Brownstein, Ronald. "On Jonathan Gruber's Conflict Of Interest", The Atlantic Politics Channel. January 8, 2010; accessed January 13, 2010.
  10. ^ Fabry, Sandra. "ATR and CFA to MIT Economist: Give the Money Back." Americans for Tax Reform. January 12, 2010.
  11. ^ Hamsher, Jane. "How the White House Used Jonathan Gruber's Work to Orchestrate the Appearance of Broad Consensus", FireDogLake Action; January 13, 2010.
  12. ^ Worth Publishers Student Center for Public Finance and Policy
  13. ^ Honors & awards – Fall 2006 Soundings
  14. ^ National Academy of Social Insurance
  15. ^ Cannon, Michael. "ObamaCare Architect Jonathan Gruber: "If You're A State And You Don't Set Up An Exchange, That Means Your Citizens Don't Get Their Tax Credits"". Forbes. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  16. ^ jonathan-gruber-halbig-says-quote-exchanges-was-mistake
  17. ^
  18. ^ The Cost and Coverage Impact of The President’s Health Insurance Budget Proposals, February 15, 2006]
  19. ^ Gruber, Jonathan (December 4, 2008), "Medicine for the Job Market", New York Times 
  20. ^ Gruber, Jonathan (February 9, 2011), Health Care Reform Without the Individual Mandate 
  21. ^ NBER Working Papers by Jonathan Gruber

External links[edit]