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Voices of Medicaid reform

Several hundred people jammed the auditorium at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Research Studies Center Wednesday for the first of seven hearings across the state designed to gauge public opinion and gather opinions on how to reduce the costs of Medicaid.

The health program now constitutes about 20 percent of the budget for both New York state and Erie County.

The panel heard from dozens of local people who were limited to two minutes. They ranged from Medicaid recipients and providers to heads of powerful health organizations, hospital CEOs, and government officials. All seemed to recognize the need for changes to lower costs. Here are the first 30:

Frederick Cohen:

Casimiro Rodriguez Sr., chairman of the Save Waterfront Coalition:

Dr. Raul Vazquez, Urban Family Care:

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo:

Coordinator of local advisory groups:

Karen Nelson, CEO Planned Parenthood of WNY:

Respiratory exposure consultant:

Chris Voltz, AIDS Community Services:

Howard Hitzel, Psy.D. President, Lake Shore Behavioral Health:

Jim Kaskie, CEO Kaleida Health:

Brenda Ward, commissioner Erie County Department of Senior Services:

Pain management consultant:

Mental health recipient:

Jessica Walker, Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo:

Mike Rogers, self-advocate:

Occupational therapist:

Parent of Medicaid recipient:

Taxed Enough Already:

Independent Living Center:

Laurie Kostrzewski, TEA New York:

Max Donatelli, parent:

Celia Spacone, Buffalo Psychiatric Center:

Hillary Clarke, American Cancer Society:

Brett Lawton, Jericho Road Family Practice:

Michael Gross, CEO of local nonprofit agency:

Philip Andrew, Pinnacle Clinical:

Eva Benedict, CEO at Jones Memorial Wellsville, NY:

Rural safety net provider:

Patricia Bax, RN, MS, Marketing Coordinator for the NYS Smokers' Quitline:

Horizon Health Services:

Betsy T. Wright, WCA Hospital President/CEO WCA Hospital of Jamestown:

Julie Nurse, mother of 11-year-old with autism:

John Bartimole, Western New York Healthcare Association President:

Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Comptroller:

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