On July 3, Nather’s colleague Alex Isenstadt tackled the politics of postponing the mandate and outlined what the GOP and the Dems think they can get out of this unexpected turn in the Obamacare saga. Basically, each sees an advantage. Isenstadt reported that the delay “denies Republicans powerful anecdotes they can use against the Democrats.” Think: restaurant owner, eking out a living in a tiny town, laying off a couple of dish washers. Brad Todd, a Republican media consultant, told Isenstadt that the stumbles and delays in implementing Obamacare—and there have been a number of them—are “the gift that just keeps on giving.” That’s exactly what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said right before passage of the Affordable Care Act, when Anthem Blue Cross—a subsidiary of the giant insurer, WellPoint—raised rates 39 percent in California. That increase gave the pols one more reason to push the bill toward passage. Some Dems, on the other hand, see a “distinct upside in the delay,” per Politico. That is, they might avoid talking about healthcare reform (or, at least, the employer mandate) in the mid-term elections. Still, the politics of delay breed uncertainty, which is unsettling. “It’s never fun for us to have to deal with the unknown,” one Democratic strategist told Politico.

One thing that is known: the healthcare reform story will continue to be—for reporters, too—the gift that just keeps on giving. And for this latest plot twist, Politico rose to the occasion with its coverage.

Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team.

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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.