When Obamacare was signed by the president in 2010, NPR marked how its health reporter Julie Rovner had a "picture perfect day," and took a snapshot. She "was all smiles when asked about how important this day was to her.” She said: “It's the first month of my twenty-five years covering health policy...and I did not intend to miss this event!”
So it’s not surprising that she would write a blog on how utterly conservatives failed to nick Obamacare in the shutdown fight – or as she called it, “their 16-day tirade against the government.”
But it's not just that the Republicans failed to make any changes to the health law in their 16-day tirade against the government. News coverage of the shutdown and potential default crowded out stories about the very rocky rollout of the health exchanges themselves.
Rovner wrote that when it became clear Obama and the Democrats wouldn’t allow any delay or defunding Obamacare, they tried to repeal the medical device tax. No dice. Then they looked to curb the exemptions of Congress on Obamacare “and they proposed to delay a temporary $63 annual per-person health insurance tax intended to build a fund to help pay for high-cost cases.”
None of those things ended up in the final bill that reopened the federal government and raised the debt ceiling Wednesday night. So what did?
Well, there was a little language related to the health law. It requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services "certify to the Congress that the Exchanges verify" that individuals who get subsidies for premiums and cost-sharing are, in fact, eligible. And that the secretary "shall submit a report to the Congress that details the procedures employed by the American Health Benefit Exchanges to verify eligibility for credit and cost-sharing."
Sounds like a big deal? Not really. It so happens that the much-maligned "data hub" that's part of the health exchange already links to the IRS to verify income eligibility. So, basically, the law requires HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to write a letter explaining what the department is already doing.
Rovner also linked to liberal blogger Ezra Klein mocking the GOP for the "irony" that the shutdown allegedly crowded out the disastrous Obamacare rollout:
Hearing from more people getting through http://t.co/iJrBCjFhBY. Ironic if GOP knocked it from headlines just long enough for it to be fixed
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 16, 2013