How hard will it be to reconcile the proposals kicking around Capitol Hill to remake health care?
At least for three House bills, the content is about 85% the same, Nancy-Ann DeParle, head of the White House Office of Health Reform, tells Melissa Block, co-host of All Things Considered. "The bills do follow the basic blueprint that the president put forth from his campaign," DeParle says.
In the Wednesday interview, DeParle acknowledges that the 15% of the legislation that's different will take some work to reconcile. Issue No. 1: the fate of the public plan.
She tells Block she's not sure whether a co-op, an alternative getting support in the Senate, would be acceptable to President Obama. We're also not likely to find out the details of what provisions the president supports or rejects until a bill surfaces in conference.
DeParle also does her part to clear up some misunderstandings and misrepresentations of some of the changes afoot, such as counseling on end-of-life care. "It's really cruel to turn that somehow into death panels," she says. That characterization "goes beyond civil debate" and is "not helpful."
She also says that fears of change are overblown. For most people, the health overhaul won't even be that visible. The main differences would be that people could depend on having an affordable insurance choice, even if they lose a job or have a pre-existing condition. And, she says, for those who get insurance at work, "nothing will change except their costs should come down over time."
Isn't that promising a bit much, Block asks. "No," answers DeParle, who says she's read the various bills carefully. Existing health plans can be grandfathered and employers will have time to adjust, minimizing disruptions, she explains.
For more from DeParle, check out this White House video of her taking questions from Facebook at the end of June.