White House: No contingency plans for health care law

Dr. Sonia Nagda puts a pin supporting the health care reform law signed by President Obama as she gathers with other health care professionals in front of the Supreme Court on March 26, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Richard Mondale yells at a Obama health care reform supporter during a protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building March 27, 2012, in Washington.
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The Supreme Court this summer could strike down all or parts of President Obama's signature piece of legislation, the 2010 health care overhaul, but the White House emphatically maintained Wednesday that it's not preparing any contingency plans for that scenario.

"We believe the law is constitutional, and we are focused on implementing all of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act," Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.

As to whether the White House was creating contingency plans for the law given the tough nature of the questions posed by the Supreme Court justices this week, Earnest said that is "not something we're spending a second doing."

"Anybody who believes you can try to predict the outcome of a Supreme Court case based solely on the questions of the justices is not a very good student of the court," he said.

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The court on Wednesday wrapped up three days of hearings on the constitutionality of the health reforms. It's expected to hand down a ruling sometime in late June -- right in the middle of the 2012 election season.

Earnest said the White House is confident the law is constitutional in part because of its bipartisan support over the years. "This is a novel policy solution that was conceived of by [the conservative think tank] the Heritage Foundation [and] promoted by Republicans," he said.

He pointed out that millions of people are already benefitting from some of the law's provisions, such as the rule requiring free preventive care and the rule allowing children under the age of 26 to stay on their parents' insurance plans.

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Several pundits have charged that Solicitor General Donald Verrilli may have hurt the law's chances of survival after giving what they called a poor defense of the individual mandate in Tuesday's court hearing. CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called Verilli's performance "a train wreck."

White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler released a statement to the media Wednesday calling Verilli "an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment and unquestionable integrity," adding that he "ably and skillfully represented the United States before the Supreme Court."

Earnest later today said the White House "wholeheartedly" agrees with that assessment, calling Verilli "one of the brightest legal minds in Washington, D.C."

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