Yesterday, during a conference call with bloggers about the new health care benefits that will begin tomorrow, Nancy-Ann DeParle — the director of the White House Office for health reform — said that the White House was not worried about GOP efforts to defund or repeal the law, but suggested that any part of it could be defunded. Replying to a question from the Wonk Room, DeParle admitted that “any aspect of this could be defunded,” but reiterated her belief that Democrats will retain control of the House and the Senate, forestalling that possibility:
DEPARLE: Through the appropriations process, what they can do and something they’ve done in the past with reforms. So they would defund in the appropriations bill maybe spent program that would be spent to issue regulations on competitive bidding program for dual medical equipment, so they can do things like that. Any aspect of this could be defunded. There is funding in here for insurance authorities to do a better job of rate review. They can take that away. So there are things they can do. But I’m confident that Democrats are going to be running the House in November, and the Senate as well. So I don’t expect to see any of those things. I’m not making plans for that. We are looking forward towards implementing the law.
Similarly, DeParle told the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein that HHS was not concerned about the constitutional challenges to the health care law, insisting that the administration will prevail in court. She argued that the lawsuits aren’t “occupying a whole lot of time and space” as implementers in some states are busy establishing exchanges and “getting legislation enacted in their legislatures.”
Should they regain power, however, the Republicans have pledged to pursue different channels to undermine the health care law. As the New York Times reported yesterday, the GOP could “withhold money that federal officials need to administer and enforce the law,” “prevent aggressive enforcement of the requirements,” “scale back the expansion of Medicaid” and even “override or rewrite some of the regulations issued by the Obama administration without a full opportunity for public comment.”