Oooh, that's bad. Mind you that the contract was for technical assistance, precisely,
Dr. Gruber is uniquely positioned to provide the analytic work ASPE requires based on over 15 years of experience in health care and health policy. Dr. Gruber is a recognized expert in health policy in economics including being widely published in peer-reviewed academic and health policy literature on the effects of changes in health benefit designs on the cost of enrollment in health insurance. Moreover, in order to estimate the impacts, Dr. Gruber developed a proprietary statistically sophisticated micro-simulation model that has the flexibility to ascertain the distribution of changes in health care spending and public and private sector health care costs due to a large variety of changes in health insurance benefit design, public program eligibility criteria, and tax policy. This model has been used for other health reform proposal. [emphasis mine]Dr. Gruber was not paid for his opinions. He was paid to lend the HHS his methods.
Would it have been better if he had disclosed? Yeah, sure. But it is absolute heresy to insinuate that Prof. Grubber was either paid for advocacy or that his advocacy for the excise tax had anything to do with the dollars he received in this contract. He was paid to crunch numbers using a patented micro-simulation model that he developed. If Jon Gruber wrote something that said "you must eat steak and wear fur to have great health care", there is not a thing the HHS could do about it. Nor could they cancel the contract. Once again, he was not employed to do advocacy or public relations. His contract has nothing whatsoever to do with advocacy at all, much less the specific advocacy of the excise tax. That is he plain truth of the matter.
Everything else is voodoo handwringing and character assassination. It is that simple.