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2 Buffalo doctors strongly support federal effort to reform health care

Two Buffalo doctors who have devoted their careers to caring for the uninsured voiced their strong support for health reform Tuesday in an event organized by a national network of President Obama supporters.

Both tried to counter what they see as myths and misinformation about the health reform proposals currently under debate in Congress.

"It's a myth that we can't afford health reform. The truth is we can't afford not to fix the health care system," said Dr. David Holmes, a family physician in the University at Buffalo department of family medicine.

Holmes recounted how he and colleagues too often see patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, whose conditions spiral out of control because they lack health insurance.

Meanwhile, Dr. Myron Glick, who runs the Jericho Road Family Practice on the city's lower West Side, took aim at the critics of health reform who contend a public option health plan would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

"We take care of people with insurance from at least 30 different companies, each with its own rules and lists of medications. I can't tell you how challenging it is to see a patient and be unable to prescribe a medication or a test without having to talk to someone who is not a doctor to get approval. Insurance companies are already involved in the exam room, and the reality is that there is less interference, in general, from Medicare and Medicaid," he said.

Glick advocated a robust public option insurance plan as part of health reform, saying it would provide needed competition to private health insurers and make them more accountable for their business decisions.

The event was put together by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee and a successor to Obama for America. The organization is trying to use the same local-level efforts that helped elect Obama to now build support for the administration's policy initiatives.

"We're trying to concentrate on getting the grass roots engaged," said Larry Knox, regional field coordinator for the group.

The event in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo also included a labor representative and small-business owner.

Responding to charges that health reform would result in rationing, Patricia DeVinney said the current health system already rations care by denying care to the uninsured and forcing many people with insurance to avoid seeking care because of the cost.

"It's the private option that we've seen disintegrating as the number of uninsured keeps going up," said DeVinney, regional field coordinator for the Labor Federation of the AFL-CIO.

e-mail: hdavis@buffnews.com

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