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The sudden financial difficulty that Erie County finds itself in is only a symptom of a larger problem -- a lack of leadership by our elected officials. Raising the sales tax to fund the gap is only a Band-Aid on a ruptured artery.

This state has some of the best minds in the world in medicine and finance. Gov. George Pataki should create a special commission that will work to identify every factor that contributes to these costs, and then give this commission the teeth to recommend and implement a plan to bring these costs under control.

The chairman of the State Medical Insurance Commission should be Buffalo News Chairman Warren Buffett, who is without question one of the brightest minds in the insurance industry. I am certain he has the capability to solve this problem.

Absent bold, dramatic and immediate steps to reduce the cost of Medicaid, as well as other governmental burdens, the state will continue to slip into the abyss. It is only a matter of time before the general economic problems of this region, and the specific economic problems of Buffalo and Erie County, pale in comparison to those of New York State, resulting in more businesses fleeing for brighter economic pastures.

Peter Huston


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