President Obama works to fast track healthcare overhaul

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - President Barack Obama's re-election has put health care overhaul 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 Medicare nearly 50 years ago and will affect everyone in the United States in some way. Yet it also is far different from the health insurance program for seniors, which is 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 these health care changes will play out in each state.

How they will be enacted and how people 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 people. Beyond broadcast-length APNewsNows, longer-form stories will also go to broadcast members to help stations navigate the law's implementation at the state level and better understand relevant aspects of the health care industry. A priority 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?"

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.

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