by NBC's Ali Weinberg
White House Office of Health Reform director Nancy Ann DeParle told NBC's Chuck Todd today that she felt "blindsided" by the health insurance industry's study today cricitizing what it concluded would be rising premiums under proposed reform plans.
"I'd spent a couple of hours with insurance industry folks last week, and yes I did feel blindsided," DeParle said. "I did feel we were working constructively."
The study, conducted by the firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, concludes that consumers will bear the brunt of a tax on pricier insurance plans, despite the predictions of the Congressional Budget Office and independent economists that insurance companies will respond to the tax by finding ways to lower costs. In a conference call with reporters today, Karen Ignagni, the president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group that issued the report, said that the study was commissioned because AHIP officials "were concerned with what we were seeing by way of increased costs."
Citing the estimates of cost reduction, DeParle said "the CBO believes that the reforms that are going to be put in place will bring costs down over time," adding: "they say the high cost tax on high cost plans will only be borne by plans for a limited amount of time."
DeParle and will appear together tonight to discuss health care reform on The News Hour With Jim Lehrer, broadcast on PBS stations across the country.