If the political debate over President Obama's health-care law were a boxing match, the referee late last year might have called the fight -- or at least issued a standing-eight count to protect the wobbly and bloodied administration.
From late October through much of December, every health-care punch the administration took was powerful and bruising. The federal HealthCare.Gov site wasn't working. Enrollment was low (slightly more than 100,000 had signed up for coverage after October). And perhaps most potent of all, millions of Americans had their bare-bones health-care plans cancelled, contradicting the president's claim that if you liked your health plan, you could keep it.
Yet so far in the new year, the Obama administration is no longer exclusively on the ropes: The punches are still coming, but they're a bit easier to dodge or deflect.
Much of that is due to HealthCare.Gov working better, which enabled the total enrollment to exceed 2 million through December (on both the federal and state exchanges) and allowed the administration to highlight benefits these Americans were receiving.
Another reason is because other stories have grabbed the headlines -- the George Washington Bridge scandal engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new book, Liz Cheney ending her Senate campaign.
A third explanation is, as the Washington Post's Sarah Kliff recently wrote, Americans have become "bored" with the health-care story.
Regardless of the reason, health-care has become a more manageable story for the Obama White House.
To be sure, the punches haven't stopped -- and they won't anytime soon.
The AP reports on the problems associated with HealthCare.Gov's Spanish-language website. "'When you get into the details of the plans, it's not all written in Spanish. It's written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,' said Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator who helps with enrollment in Miami."
The administration's numbers on those who have enrolled are inflated (many of those who have obtained health insurance via expanded Medicaid are already on Medicaid and are just renewing, CNN says).
And there are still questions about whether enough young and healthy Americans are signing up to offset the costs of older and sicker enrollees.
But the story has changed from a month or two ago: The administration is no longer taking violent blow after violent blow.
And that keeps them off the mat -- at least for now.