The health care overhaul law passed by Congress in 2010 sets out national goals and requirements. But many of the key decisions implementing the law are left to the states.

So what's happening in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states to implement exchanges and other aspects of the health reform law? How are states preparing for the law's Medicaid expansion in a time of budget deficits? As they plan for reform, how are states addressing tough issues such as health care for undocumented immigrants and cutbacks in mental health services? How do states go about getting waivers from the reform law, and how many might take advantage of that option?

The Inquirer is hosting a public event meant to demystify the health bill and gauge how it is proceeding. And you're invited:


WHEN: Wednesday, December 14, A briefing for the general public from 8 to 9 p.m., sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer and WTXF Fox29. To register, email

WHERE: Philadelphia Inquirer (400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215/854-2000 – Follow signs in the front lobby).


Robert Field, professor of law, health management and policy at Drexel University – Dr. Field is an expert on health law and public health, and is the author of a comprehensive guide to government regulation of health care in the U.S. His research focuses on ethical issues in health reform, genetic screening, managed care and public policy.

Joel Ario was director of the federal Office of Insurance Exchanges from 2009 until September of this year. In that post, he was the person most directly responsible for helping states set up their health insurance exchanges, and for organizing exchanges in states choosing not to do so on their own. He is a former insurance commissioner for the State of Pennsylvania.

Jeffrey Brenner is the founder and executive director of the Camden Coalition of Health Care Providers in New Jersey, which is working to improve the health status of Camden residents by increasing capacity, quality and access to care. A family physician, he has practiced in Camden for 11 years. His work in Camden was spotlighted in a Jan. 24 New Yorker article by Atul Gawande.

Karl Stark is health and science editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and vice president of the Association of Health Care Journalists' Board of Directors. He has worked as The Inquirer's pharmaceuticals reporter, national/foreign editor, deputy editor of science and medicine, and covered health care extensively as a business reporter. He has won many awards for his investigative work, including the National Press Club's Consumer Story of the Year.