Luke Hilgemann: A few weeks ago, hardly anyone in America had heard of Jonathan Gruber. Now, the Obamacare architect is a household name.

Gruber became a national sensation earlier this month after videos emerged of him detailing how the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” became law. The short version: Its architects, including Gruber, exploited the legislative process to pass a bill that voters never would have supported had they known what it was. In his words: “Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

By Amy Goldstein:

A year after the Obama administration temporarily shelved an unfinished part of HealthCare.gov intended for small businesses, it has opened with reports of only modest technical flaws — but with doubts that it will soon benefit the millions of workers at little companies with inadequate health insurance or none at all.

Insurance brokers are, at times, having trouble getting into their accounts and, in scattered cases, are not showing up in the computer system’s lists of local insurance professionals available to coach small businesses. More broadly, interviews with brokers and others suggest that, in the two weeks since the marketplace’s health plans went on sale for 2015, interest within the niche they are intended to help seems scant.

Vermont lawmakers say they’re skeptical of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s forthcoming single-payer financing plan because it relies on economic modeling provided by Jonathan Gruber.

As Shumlin gets ready to present a health-care financing plan to the Legislature in January, key lawmakers who will decide its fate are saying Gruber’s explosive video confessions severely damage the proposal.

“The holiday shopping season kicks off tomorrow with Black Friday, the annual mad-dash for good deals and early-morning sales. This year, shoppers in a few states will see something new this year at shopping malls–and its not exactly a hot new store. It’s…Obamacare.
In an effort to boost floundering enrollment numbers, the Department of Health and Human Services has taken to partnering with retail stores, pharmacies and websites to promote the open enrollment period, which lasts until Feb. 15. Enrollment workers will be present on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday to tell shoppers about how to sign up for a plan on the exchange.”

“As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.
Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued this month.”

“Just days before the health law’s marketplaces reopened, nearly a quarter of uninsured said they expect to remain without coverage because they did not think it would be affordable, according to a poll released Friday.
That was by far the most common reason given by people who expect to stay uninsured next year, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) Forty-one percent of individuals without health insurance said they expected they would remain uninsured, while about half said they plan to get coverage in the coming months.”

“Please consider Friday’s ‘Obamacare losing streak’ post officially updated. Behold, the ‘Affordable’ Care Act at work. Congratulations, “beneficiaries” (via The Hill):
The average price of the most popular ObamaCare health insurance plans rose 10 percent for 2015, according to a new study of premium figures published Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…Not only are premiums increasing, but if consumers do not pick a different plan, they could pay more due to annual changes in how subsidies are calculated.”

“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act seems like an unending nightmare. Desperate for some good news, the White House is justly relieved and celebrating the fact that the government website is not plagued with last year’s disasters.
But other big challenges loom, including the administration of the law’s hideously complex insurance subsidy system, as well as coverage and cost problems.”

“Former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who infamously presided over HealthCare.gov’s flop, swore Monday that her administration was “forthright with the American public” about Obamacare.
“We were very forthright with the American public — I think members of Congress who wrote this legislation were very forthright,” Sebelius said on CNN’s “New Day.” “It was both about — having affordable coverage was certainly a piece of it, but also people getting coverage they didn’t have.””

“RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had run out of options to pull off his marquee campaign promise to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Even a risky plan to circumvent the legislature had fallen apart.
That’s when the governor, his top priority defeated, picked up the phone and called the man he blamed for the catastrophe.
“Hey, Phil? Terry McAuliffe,” the governor said in a seething voice message to Phillip P. Puckett, a Southwest Virginia Democrat who had quit the state Senate days earlier, throwing control of it to the GOP. “I want you to know we just lost the vote, 20 to 19, in the Senate. Medicaid is done. I hope you sleep easy tonight, buddy.””