WH Official on Birth Control Backlash: "I Didn't Think It Would Be This Controversial"

| Wed Mar. 21, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

Ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act this Friday, the White House hosted a briefing with senior officials to tout the benefits the law has had for women so far. It was notable in light of the most recent health care reform related dustup over coverage of contraception.

Deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew rattled off the law's many accomplishments—including the coverage of preventative services, the removal of lifetime limits on benefits, and an end to gender-based rate differences.

I asked if the Obama administration thinks the fight over contraception coverage in recent weeks has been advantageous.

"I guess I think that it does help to highlight the differences in approach," said DeParle, though she noted it wasn't a fight the White House sought out. The administration was simply following the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine on preventative care for women. "I'm shocked, honestly, at how much difference there is. It really surprised me. I didn't think it would be this controversial."