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HCRA WILL HELP INSURE THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS

It is ironic that a Dec. 23 News editorial sharply criticized the Assembly for passing the Health Care Refore Act of 2000 while at the same time the local news carried a picture of workers at what used to be Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna. They were removing the emergency room signs, in effect, closing another full-service hospital in Western New York. It is a fact that the health-care industry is in a crisis and, as always, it is the poor in urban and rural areas who are the most affected.

As president of Western New York Hispanic & Friends Civic Association, I agree with the editorial that the process used by the Assembly to pass the law in the middle of the night without much public debate was flawed. But I disagree with the criticism of the funding mechanism. Was there an alternative other than raising personal or property taxes?

HCRA is a complicated piece of legislation that is critical to teaching hospitals and the delivery of health care in rural communities. Most important is that it will provide insurance coverage to the thousands of uninsured families in the state. This legislation is not the salvation of the health-care industry. We still have to deal with the massive cuts from the federal Balanced Budget Act. But it is a start. It is a recognition that unless some stability is restored to the health-care industry, more hospitals will close.

ANDRES GARCIA

Buffalo

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