The source and amount of that money is still very much undecided. The smaller the total Congress decides to spend, the smaller the subsidy—and the more trouble those of modest means will have affording insurance they will be required to buy. Wyden said these people will be asking “How am I going to make this work for me and my family?” Indeed that is the question for which the media needs to supply the answers. The takeaway: Which families will have to dig deepest into their pockets to buy the mandated insurance?

Over the next month, we’d like to see the press tackle each of these questions. That would be a great way to keep audiences tuned in when they might be tempted by beach reading instead.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.