By Elise Viebeck - 06/07/12 03:53 PM EDT
President Obama's top health official told an audience Thursday that the administration will be prepared to react if the Supreme Court strikes down its healthcare reform law.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she is "confident and optimistic" that the high court will uphold the law, but added "we'll be ready for contingencies" if it does not.
A report last week said Obama has privately expressed concerns he could have to revisit healthcare issues in a second term — an attitude that contradicts the confidence he's expressed publicly that the court will rule in the law's favor.
"Frankly, we're just working as hard as we possibly can to get ready for 2014," when new portions of the law will be implemented, Sebelius told the friendly audience Thursday.
"It's best to anticipate that the law is fully constitutional. ... Some of the deadlines are pretty daunting," she said.
The ruling could come at 10 a.m. on any business day before the end of June, when the Supreme Court will finish its session.
Sebelius called healthcare reform "the most important women's health law in at least 50 years" — on par with Medicare.
"We've been talking to women throughout the country about the Affordable Care Act and about how this law is already impacting their lives," she said. "What the law meant for them is peace of mind.
"Whatever the circumstances … care will be there. Affordable prices will be there. Coverage will be there that you need."