200,000 Western New Yorkers Without Health Care Coverage
Buffalo, NY—Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced his plan for covering the uninsured in Western New York. In conjunction with “Cover the Uninsured Week,” Congressman Higgins was at Kaleida Health’s Judge Joseph S. Mattina Community Health Center, where he was joined by William McGuire, CEO of Kaleida Health.
“This week is ‘Cover the Uninsured Week,’ and the problem of working Americans with no health insurance continues to grow. During President Bush’s tenure, the number of uninsured here in Western New York has grown to over 200,000 people,” said Congressman Higgins. “Almost all of these individuals live in a household with at least one worker. This is wrong and we need to act. We must move forward on a bipartisan basis to expand access to affordable, quality and reliable health coverage for America’s families.”
"Improving the health of our community is Kaleida Health's mission,” said Kaleida CEO William McGuire. “We collaborate with community groups such as the Near East Side Task Force and the West Side Children & Families Task Force, to address the needs and positively change the health status among the underserved population.”
As part of “Cover the Uninsured Week,” Congressman Higgins announced his plan to cover half of America’s 45 million uninsured and give them access to affordable and quality health insurance. The Republicans in Congress have a plan which would only cover 2.1 million Americans. Higgins’ plan will have a major impact on the over 200,000 Western New Yorkers who are without healthcare coverage.
Some of the bills that Congressman Higgins is cosponsoring include: the Small Business Health Insurance Promotion Act, which would create a 50 percent tax credit to help small businesses and the self-employed with the costs of health coverage; the FamilyCare Act would lower costs and expand affordable coverage for working parents, by making the parents of children eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid also eligible for coverage; the Medicare Early Access Act would allow people between the ages 55 and 64 to purchase Medicare. Together, these bills could cover over 23 million uninsured Americans.
Congressman Higgins’ plan also addresses the needs of medically underserved communities. He is a co-sponsor of the Healthy People, Healthy Choices Act of 2005, which will encourage better health for African, Latino, and other minority populations whose rates of obesity and disease are markedly high compared with the general U.S. population. The bill will create a public outreach campaign to increase minority health awareness regarding overall health promotion and nutrition and fitness. It will also create grant programs for non-profit organizations servicing medically underserved populations.
Finally, Congressman Higgins supports The Health Disparity Principles, which were recently adopted by the Democratic Caucus. The Principles outline Congressman Higgins’ commitment to get America insured, increase access to quality care, diversify the health care workforce, combat diseases that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, emphasize prevention, research and data collection, and expand access to interpreters and translation services for those who need them in the deliver of health care.
“We also recognize the increasing population of the uninsured and the underserved,” William McGuire added. “Kaleida Health will not allow this issue to be a barrier for access to quality health care. Our facilitated enrollment program offers patients and their families a convenient way to learn about available health insurance programs in the community."