(Bloomberg Politics) – Harold Pollack has spent quite a bit of time and effort trying to get people to watch him discuss health care on video. For months, the University of Chicago professor has recorded interviews with fellow wonks for HealthInsurance.org. In 2012, he recorded two short “super-PAC ads” that explained the benefits of social insurance programs, and the ways they can save the lives of people who find themselves unexpectedly burdened.
These videos weren’t ignored, exactly—but finally, Pollack is starring in a hit. Recently, conservative reporter/blogger Keith Koffler “uncovered” a short clip of Pollack talking to Jonathan Gruber about Medicaid.
“One of the things that’s really striking to me is, there’s a politics of impunity towards poor people, particularly non-white poor people that—it’s almost a feature rather than a bug in the internal politics in some of these states, not to cover people under Medicaid even if it’s financially very advantageous to do so,” said Pollack in the video, as Gruber nodded.
“They’re not just not interested in covering poor people, they’re willing to sacrifice billions of dollars in injections into their economy in order to punish poor people,” said Gruber. “I mean, it really is just almost awesome in its evilness.”
To Koffler, this was prima facie offensive. “States say they have done so not to hurt poor people—or minorities, for that matter—but because they view Medicaid as a failed program,” he wrote. At the Daily Mail, this became a video of “Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber agreeing that states’ opposition to massive Medicaid expansion may be race-related.” At the Daily Caller, the “awesome in its evilness” quote was the lede.
Pollack finds the whole story, and the discovery of what he calls “my ZaGruber tape,” baffling.