To Our Readers

Our team will help readers navigate health care reform

 

amarques@MiamiHerald.com

Will health insurance premiums increase when health care reform goes into effect? Will Florida legislators accept nearly $50 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid? Who will qualify for a subsidy?

Many questions loom large as we prepare for the changes in health care required by the Affordable Care Act, which is likely to touch everyone in some way. We’ve assembled a team of reporters in Miami and Tallahassee to help readers navigate the changes. We’re also working with the McClatchy Washington Bureau and Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news organization focused on in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics.

“This is the biggest change in health care in decades,” said Amy Driscoll, the Health Editor who is leading our reporting team. “We want to focus on the issues that mostly impact Florida and South Florida as the healthcare landscape changes.”

Last week we launched the Florida Healthwatch blog ( http://miamiherald.typepad.com/health/) as part of a multi-pronged approach to our coverage. The blog will track a wide range of key developments on health care issues — from across Florida to steps taken in other parts of the country that could influence how the Affordable Care Act changes take place here.

Health reporter Patricia Borns will lead our efforts to use the blog to address the questions and concerns surrounding every phase of the program’s implementation. We hope you will use it to stay informed and be part of the discussion as this story unfolds.

One of the biggest changes begins in less than three months, when hundreds of thousands of Florida residents making less than $48,000 a year will be eligible for federal money to help purchase their own insurance through online health exchanges.

Over the next few months, our lead health reporter Daniel Chang will focus on the impact of the health exchanges in South Florida and statewide. An 18-year veteran reporter, Chang brings the ability to delve into complex issues with clarity — a vital skill as we examine how the implementation will shape medical care in South Florida.

Tallahassee reporters Kathleen McGrory and Tia Mitchell of the Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times Capital Bureau will help provide comprehensive statewide coverage of this transition, as well as the ramifications of the political decisions in the state capital. Already, key decisions by state leaders have changed the implementation in Florida. The Legislature has rejected an estimated $50 billion to expand Medicare over 10 years statewide. Without the money, one million Floridians will remain uninsured even after Jan. 1 when healthcare reform begins.

At the national level, in addition to reporting from Kaiser, Tony Pugh of the McClatchy Washington Bureau will report on national trends and the machinations on Capitol Hill.

“We’re in an environment that is highly politicized,” Chang said. “We need to be able to give people the unbiased, neutral view.”

Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, executive editor, can be reached at 305-376-3429 or amarques@MiamiHerald.com. The mailing address is 3511 NW 91st Avenue, Miami, FL 33172. Follow me on Twitter @MindyMarques.

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