The government closed, the debt ceiling deadline loomed, and what did it come down to? A "deal that won't actually change anything at all," reports the Washington Post.
From defunding the health law altogether, Republicans backed down to focus on the part of the bill that requires the Dept. of Health and Human Services to verify the incomes people report in order to qualify for healthcare insurance subsidies. No one would argue that without income verification, fraud is inevitable.
But over the summer, during the frantic development of Healthcare.gov, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that rather than verifying the incomes of all applicants, the initial audit would include only a "statistically significant number of people who reported incomes that were strikingly different than what federal records showed."
House Republicans wanted to require that HHS create a new income verification system before issuing any subsidies -- an impossible first-year task given the problems that have already delayed Healthcare.gov.
In the end, the tempest in Congress boiled down to an agreement that Sebelius must submit two reports describing how the healthcare exchanges are dealing with applicants' eligibility for tax credits and cost-sharing benefits. Read more.