If the press missed the irony of the Republicans’ campaign strategy, it did report on the pluses touted by reformers and the administration. But in the end those pluses didn’t give Dems the political gravitas they were seeking. Perhaps that’s because some voters saw that the reforms weren’t going to help them very much. One young man hoped to get on his mother’s insurance policy, only to learn that she had coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and that he couldn’t get on until January, when he was almost twenty-six and would soon be ineligible. In the meantime, he bought an individual policy, and now must figure out how to pay for a twelve percent rate increase his carrier just announced.

With the Republican star rising, changes are afoot. Michael Leavitt, who was Secretary of Health and Human Services in the last Bush administration, told Politico that there is a 75 percent likelihood that the requirement to buy health insurance will be disrupted, whether it’s weakened, stalled, or modified. Tuesday night, Eric Cantor, the heir apparent for the job of House majority leader, said “I hope that we’re able to put a repeal bill on the floor right away because that’s what the American people want.” Is it what the people want, or what Republicans have wanted all along? Whatever happens, the U.S. health system is still its dysfunctional, fragmented, costly self, in need of repair or wholesale reform. Going forward, this is the story the media need to tell.

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.