Washington

The Obama administration is skeptical about the idea of funding health finance reform efforts by taxing group health benefits.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, talked about that skepticism here today at a meeting sponsored by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif.

The Obama administration is not supporting any of the group health benefits tax proposals now before Congress, DeParle said.

“We want to build on current system of employer-based coverage,” DeParle said.

DeParle questioned whether group health tax legislation can get through Congress, and she told attendees that President Obama intends to enact a health reform bill this year.

When the Clinton administration tried to enact reform legislation 15 years ago, major players were on opposite sides of the table, but now, she said, “everyone is working with us. No one wants the status quo. The questions everyone are asking is, “How do we get everyone covered? How do we lower costs?”

The providers themselves “are aware that health care costs are too high,” DeParle said.