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AP Health Care Initiative

Thursday, January 24, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laura Sellers-Earl
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Editors:

President Obama’s re-election has put national health care reform on a fast track _ at least in some states. The Affordable Care Act is the biggest addition to the nation’s social safety net since the advent of Medicare nearly 50 years ago and will affect every American in some way. Yet it also is far different from the health insurance program for seniors or Social Security, which are administered the same no matter where a person lives.

To help its members understand the health care law and its local impact, The Associated Press is planning a sustained initiative focusing on how health care reform will play out in each state.

How health care reform will be enacted and how consumers will be affected depends on a state’s politics, demographics and business environment. The result is that the law will create a 50-state landscape, rather than a uniform national map.

Some states have jumped at the chance to run their own health insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, while some are moving slowly and plan to cede most responsibility to the federal government. Others want a hybrid. Some states will expand their Medicaid programs, while others may not.

The AP initiative, under the Health Overhaul banner, will be driven in large part by state-based coverage, from legislative developments to the effect on consumers. It will include Q&As and other devices that will help readers, listeners and viewers navigate the law’s implementation at the state level and understand relevant aspects of the health care industry. A premium will be placed on stories that can be localized with regional content, and a major emphasis will be addressing the ordinary citizen’s most pressing question: "What does it mean for me?”

National stories, from Washington and AP bureaus throughout the country, also will be a key component of the initiative. Coverage will come in all formats, including photos, video and interactives.

Two national packages of explanatory stories and sidebars are moving in advance today for release Jan. 28 and 29:

HEALTH OVERHAUL PRIMER-EXCHANGES

WASHINGTON _ Buying health insurance on your own will never be the same. This fall, new insurance markets called exchanges will open in each state, brought to you by President Barack Obama’s health care law. They’ll offer private coverage and government aid to help pay premiums, but the rules will be different. You won’t have to worry about getting turned down because of a medical problem, but you might want to have your latest tax return handy to see if you qualify for financial help. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.

With:

_BC-US--Health Overhaul Primer-Exchanges Glossary.

_BC-US--Health Overhaul Primer-Exchanges Q&A. (Many states will offer a customized version of this national Q&A, tailored to the decisions that state has made thus far.)

_BC-US--Health Overhaul Primer-Glance.

HEALTH OVERHAUL PRIMER-MEDICAID

WASHINGTON _ It could be the most important decision state legislatures make this year, not just for their budgets, but for the well-being of residents and the economic conditions of their most critical hospitals. President Barack Obama’s health care law expands the Medicaid safety net health insurance program to cover millions of low-income people who until now were left out. But each state must decide whether to accept the expansion. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.

With:

_ BC-US--Health Overhaul Primer-Medicaid Dollars, a table of what each state would get from the federal government and spend out of its own funds.

_ BC-US--Health Overhaul Primer-Medicaid Q&A.

Many AP members already have offered suggestions and advice for the Health Overhaul initiative, and we want to continue that dialogue throughout the year. To that end, we encourage you to reach out to the news editor or correspondent in your state to provide feedback and ideas for future coverage topics.

The business of health care often is a confounding topic. An ongoing coverage partnership between AP and its state members should make it less so for millions of Americans as they try to find their way through this new reality.

In addition to your state AP contact, questions about the 50-state effort can be directed to Tom Verdin (taverdin@ap.org) or Kristin Gazlay (kgazlay@ap.org).

The AP


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