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Supporters of universal healthcare hold hearings in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Health care professionals, who are in support of passing a universal health care program in New York, are holding hearings across the state, including one Wednesday in Buffalo.

"The Affordable Care Act has made real improvements, but the fundamental flaw is that it still leaves us in the hands of insurance companies,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan.

While President Obama is pushing for more Americans to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, Gottfried’s proposed New York Health Act would provide health coverage for everyone, regardless of income, at an affordable rate by cutting out insurance companies.

"People have the right to have a healthy life. How much do you think it's costing us when a person has diabetes and isn't seen for years and then comes into the ER either gasping for breath or their blood sugar is above $700?” asked Ann Converso, a registered nurse.

The health care act would get rid of Medicare and Medicaid, combining everything into one, making everyone's health care coverage one large state-run program.

During the hearing, advocates said the current health care system is too expensive for the average family and many employers.

"Affordable health care for me is $120 a month, for just me, and my son will have to go under health care plus, get it for me, but that's not affordable for me, because I also have other bills I have to pay,” said Tasha Moore, patient and community health worker.

A spokesperson for state Senator Pat Gallivan, who is opposed to the act, said he is concerned about how much the program would cost taxpayers and the government.

Universal health care has never made it to the floor in the state Senate, and only passed in the Assembly once in 1992, but Gottfried said he remains hopeful.

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