Reports the Rutland Herald, a Vermont newspaper:
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said his office has concluded an investigation into the invoices and billing practices of Dr. Jonathan Gruber, an economic consultant who contracted with the state to provide policy expertise, research and economic modeling for Vermont’s abandoned single-payer healthcare system.
Former Gov. Peter Shumlin sought to create the single-payer system, known as Green Mountain Care, but eventually walked away from the plan after determining it would cost too much. The attorney general’s office’s began the investigation into Gruber’s billing after receiving a referral by State Auditor Doug Hoffer.
Donovan said Thursday his office and Gruber reached an agreement to settle the state’s potential legal claim that Gruber submitted false claims to the state under Vermont’s Civil False Claims Act. Donovan said his office concluded that Gruber’s conduct violated the Vermont Civil False Claims Act. Gruber denied a violation, but in order to resolve the case, he agreed to forgo any further payments from the state that he might be owed.
Donovan said Gruber’s personal services contract with the state was a standard “time and materials” contract that specified Gruber would be paid only for services actually performed. The contract required Gruber to submit monthly invoices describing the work performed and the amounts billed for such work.
Donovan’s office found that Gruber submitted at least two invoices that were false with respect to the amount of work performed by a research assistant working for Gruber. The supporting documentation provided by Gruber did not reflect the actual hours worked by the research assistant, nor did the assistant keep records accurately reflecting the hours he devoted to the state project, Donovan said.
Gruber’s contract was originally supposed to pay him as much as $400,000 to test economic models related to Shumlin’s health care proposal. The contract allowed the state to use the Gruber Microsimulation Model that Gruber developed to simulate the implementation of Shumlin’s plan and test various financing mechanisms.
Gruber, who helped design the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, came under fire in 2014 after he made disparaging comments about voters.