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Higgins Introduces Health Insurance Legislation

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Using Kaleida's Community Health Center on Niagara Street in Buffalo as his backdrop, US Congressman Brian Higgins unveiled a plan Tuesday that he says will help the uninsured in Western New York.

Congressman Higgins says he is supporting an initiative that if approved would cover half of the 45-million uninsured people across America. He says that would include many members of Buffalo's Hispanic community who are without health care coverage.

"It is fitting that we are here at this clinic on the West Side that provides valuable and quality services to Western New Yorkers," Higgins said. "A population that is underserved. We seek this legislation to help those throughout the nation, but most importantly the uninsured here in Western New York."

It is estimated that 200,000 people in the Western New York region are without health care insurance -- many living in a household with at least one adult who is working. About 80,000 are children. Dr. David Holmes, a family physician at Kalieda's Community Center on the West Side, says there is no reason children should be uninsured in New York State.

"We are the only western country in the world which doesn't provide health insurance for all its citizens," Holmes said. "There used to be two countries -- the other one was South Africa. But Holmes says South Africa is now providing health care for all its citizens and the US is no. That's embarrassing."

The proposed would expand on several federal acts to help the uninsured, including Family Care, Medicare Early Access and the Small Business Health Insurance Promotion Act.

Higgins says he believes there will be bi-partisan support for the initiative.