With health care reform, this week, marking its six-month anniversary since being signed into law, some of the president's most senior advisers have begun to more earnestly brace for the possibility that a Republican-led Congress will attempt to de-fund the legislation.
The potential for a showdown over health care funding remains firmly in the realm of the hypothetical. Top aides continue to operate off the conviction that Democrats will retain control of at least one House of Congress, providing them some relief in ensuring that the money don't run dry. But they've also begun discussing the possibility of de-funding -- which could, in turn, compel larger political crises and even, possibly, a government shut down -- with a bit more gravity.
In a conference call with new media reporters and bloggers, Nancy-Ann DeParle, the president's top health care adviser and the White House official most intimately familiar with the bill, acknowledged that there were a myriad of ways to choke off the legislation's revenue streams.
"Through the appropriations process, what [Republicans] can do and something they've done in the past with reforms, they would de-fund them in the appropriations bill... Any aspect of this could be de-funded. 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."
"We should all know," she added, "that those who seek to de-fund and repeal this law will take us back to the days when insurance companies were in control of our care instead of consumers and doctors."
As candid as DeParle was being, she remained optimistic that a de-fund drive wouldn't end in success. "I'm confident that Democrats are going to be running the House in November, and the Senate as well," she said. "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."
But what is noticeable is the contrast between the seriousness of her reply to the relatively blasé response she had to the other Republican-pushed effort to derail reform: legal challenges to the constitutionality of the individual mandate for insurance coverage.
"Well, I'm a lawyer but I don't play one on T.V.," DeParle said of those legal challenges. "So no, they have nothing at all to do with what we're focused on like a laser beam, which is getting the law implemented and I'm confident that we're going to prevail... I'm not so sure actually that it's occupying a whole lot of time and space. At least among people who are implementing this law and people who are working."
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