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The budget deal passed by Congress yesterday did, in the end, include one concession to Republicans: a provision that tightens up income verification for Obamacare recipients. Since Democrats were insisting on principle that they wouldn't provide Republicans with any ransom in return for keeping the government open, this seems a little worrying at first. It may not be a big ransom, but it's not zero, either.
Today, though, Sarah Kliff reassures me. In fact, it really is zero:
The deal basically requires two submitted reports in the course of the next year. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is due to submit the first report by Jan. 1, which must detail "the procedures employed by American Health Benefit Exchanges to verify eligibility for credits and cost-sharing reductions described in subsection." Six months later, the HHS inspector general is required to submit a report "regarding the effectiveness of the procedures and safeguards provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for preventing the submission of inaccurate or fraudulent information by applicants."
....There's nothing about the income verification measures that passed Wednesday night that will change Obamacare, aside from a few staff members at Health and Human Services devoting some hours to gathering the data and writing up these reports. And that probably explains why Democrats were okay with passing this language in the first place.
That's it? A couple of routine reports? I take it back: The Republican defeat in this debacle really was complete and total.