His remarks in Orlando drew an immediate rebuke from Obama campaign officials, who charged that Romney “wants to take us back.”
Congressional Democrats, too, are readying a response, as are insurance companies.
Top providers, such as UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Aetna, have rushed in recent days to reassure their customers that if the entire law is overturned, the companies will continue to offer preventive services without co-pays and allow adult children to remain on their parents’ plans.
But the most prominent insurance trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, has been making the case that if only the individual mandate is invalidated and the rest of the law is left intact, premiums will rise and the insurance market for individuals will implode. The organization has run advertisements in online newsletters and on sites targeted toward health policy insiders.
“Our focus is making sure people understand the inextricable link between the coverage requirement and the market reforms,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for the organization.
At the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, officials have by and large publicly ignored the possibility that any part of the legislation could be struck down. They have continued to roll out new regulations and programs under the law, including a $5.5 million grant for elder abuse prevention announced Thursday.
During a June 7 women’s health town hall meeting that centered largely on the Affordable Care Act, it was toward the end, in response to a question, that Sebelius acknowledged the potential dark cloud hanging over the measure. “We remain confident and optimistic that this change in the law” will stand, she told the audience. “Having said that, we’ll be ready for court contingencies.”
Staff writers Rosalind S. Helderman and Karen Tumulty contributed to this report.