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Federal Impasse Over, Sequel Tentatively Planned for February

After 16 days of the Federal Government Shutdown™, the Senate reached a deal to avoid a default on the nation’s debt. Key Tea Party leader, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has delivered on his promise that he will not try to block this deal, and in a rare moment of successful cat-herding, the House and Senate passed and President Obama signed the bill to end the shutdown.

To summarize the New York Times’ excellent timeline of the shutdown negotiations, the following is a recap of the House’s spending bill requests as it pertained to the ACA:

September 20, 2013: repeal the ACA
September 29, 2013: delay the ACA, change contraception coverage, and repeal medical device tax
September 30, 2013: delay the individual mandate for one year, and cancel subsidies for lawmakers
October 1, 2013: delay individual mandate for one year, and cancel subsidies for lawmakers
October 15, 2013: delay medical device tax, eliminate health care subsidies for Congress and President
October 15, 2013 (again): eliminate health care subsidies for Congress, the President and their staffs
October 16, 2013: tighten income verification on applications for health subsidies

In addition to a minor adjustment to the income verification requirement that was already in the ACA, the enforcement of the debt limit has been suspended until February 7, 2014, with federal agencies funded through January 15. The deal also guarantees back-pay for furloughed workers, the reopening of federal agencies, parks, museums and monuments, and the return of the National Zoo’s panda cam.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) conceded “this package is a joke compared to what we could have gotten if we had a more reasonable approach. For the party, this is a moment of self-evaluation, we are going to assess how we got here. If we continue down this path, we are really going to hurt the Republican Party long term.”

Senator Cruz had a different opinion: “We saw the House of Representatives take a courageous stand, listening to the American people. Had Senate Republicans united and supported House Republicans, the outcome of this, I believe, would have been very, very different.”

Some numbers:

  • $700 billion: estimated loss to the U.S. economy due to Congress’ budget battles, debt-ceiling stand-offs and spending cuts since 2010
  • 56,000: drop in uninsured population in Oregon, thanks to the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan and its fast-track enrollment program
  • 586,991: the numbers of uninsured Californians automatically transitioning from California’s county indigent programs into Medi-Cal managed care on January 1, 2014 (as of June 2013)
  • 1.5 million: number of unique visitors to coveredca.com in its first 12 days
  • 90 seconds: the time it takes to register to vote online
  • 46: the number of times the House has voted to repeal or dismantle the ACA (as of October 1, 2013)
  • 74%: percentage of Americans who disapproved of how the Republicans were handling budget negotiations
  • 100 years: the time elapsed since Teddy Roosevelt first proposed coverage for all Americans

In the event of another government shutdown early next year, let us assure you that ITUP’s 18th annual conference will continue as planned. Registration is now open.

And finally, in a bit of partisan politics, viva los dodgers.

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