Three Serious Questions

I have a few serious questions given the outcome of the CPAC straw polling.

Jonathan Gruber has just published a cartoon-based graphic novel that purports to explain, in a format everyone can understand, the entirety of Obamacare.

You can buy it here for $13.95.

Question #1 is simple – why didn’t he publish it for free on the internet if the aim was to make Obamacare as accessible to as many people as possible?  If the explanation is all it’s cracked up to be, and will help people understand and support the plan, and the motivation was to provide that explanation to the largest number of people possible, why not find a way to provide it for free over the Internet instead of exclusively at $13.95 for the paperback (or $30.00 for the hardcover)?

Question #2 is also simple:  Why is Gruber so angry at Mitt Romney?  Angry enough that a normally buttoned-down economist from MIT is resorting to using the F word in his interviews?  To quote Dr. Gruber:

“Basically, they’re the same f—ing bill,” Jonathan Gruber, a healthcare economist and MIT professor who helped shape Romney’s healthcare plan, told Capital New York this week.  
“He just can’t have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know it’s the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he’s just lying,” said Gruber.


Question #3:  Has anyone read the graphic novel?  Gruber (a Democrat) is quite proud of Obamacare and thinks that by 2016 it’s going to be a big net winner for the Democrats.  He’s also proud of his role in Massachusetts’ mandate plan and apparently is getting hot under the collar that Romney is now trying to “draw distinctions.”  The mandate is indeed the central and most crucial aspect of establishing the kind of market necessitated by the models.   Without the nationwide individual mandate, the nationwide plan can’t work.  At least, that’s my takeaway from the part of the comic book that I have read, excerpted in the Boston Globe.

I find that panel’s callout explanation fascinating on many levels:  “Only with the mandate can we be sure that healthy individuals won’t “free ride” and avoid insurance coverage until they are sick.” 

Another way to phrase that could be:  “If you are not sick and don’t buy insurance because you’re not sick, we consider you to be a “free rider” under our assumptions and our modeling.”  So if you’re healthy and don’t buy insurance because you’re healthy, that’s the definition of a “freeloader” or “free rider” under this set of assumptions, because those people are not paying for insurance they’re not using, and buying it only when they need it, which strikes me as a choice they’re currently allowed to make that – if the Plan stays around, they will never be allowed to make again.   

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but it strikes me as a little like saying:  “You have to buy car insurance, even if you never drive your car and don’t register it, and even if you don’t own a car.” 

And yes, I know a couple of panels later, they frame the answer in precisely the opposite way, using car insurance as the example.  I think very deceptively.