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Election 2020 and Your Health Care: What to Know Before You Vote Virtual Panel |October 7, 2020

The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, the League of Women Voters of Buffalo Niagara, and Buffalo Toronto Public Media are collaborating to sponsor a virtual panel event that will help viewers better understand what they should know before they walk into the voting booth this November. Health policy experts from across New York State will take part in the panel to discuss what’s on the table at the federal and state levels when it comes to health care access.

Topics covered by the panel will include:

What should voters know about what’s at stake for health care policy in the federal election, and how the outcome could have an impact on their health care?

What should we know about health policy at the state level, including Medicaid, the New York Health Act and other options to expand access?

What’s not on the table in this election, but should be? Which policy options, not supported by either presidential candidate, could make a difference for health care access?

Virtual Experiences

Election 2020 and Your Health Care: What to Know Before You Vote Virtual Panel

October 7, 2020

6pm – 7:15pm


Moderator: WBFO News Director Dave Debo


Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Community Service Society of New York

Elisabeth Benjamin is the Vice President of Health Initiatives at Community Service Society of New York, where she supervises health policy, health advocacy, and consumer health assistance programs, including the: CSS Navigator Network, Community Health Advocates, Independent Consumer Advocacy Network, CSS Facilitated Enrollment for Aged Blind and Disabled Project and the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project. Collectively, these programs help over 130,000 New Yorkers each year enroll in or use their health insurance or access low-cost health care. Elisabeth is a co-founder of Health Care for All New York Campaign (HCFANY), a statewide coalition of over 170 organizations devoted to securing affordable, quality health care for all New Yorkers.

Bill Hammond, Director of Health Policy, Empire Center for Public Policy

Bill Hammond is Director of Health Policy at the Empire Center, an Albany-based think tank focused on New York State. Bill generates data, analysis and commentary illuminating how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect New York’s patients, providers and taxpayers as well as the state’s broader economy. Bill has authored reports explaining New York’s surging Medicaid costs, critiquing a proposed state-run single-payer health care system and documenting Albany’s excessive reliance on health insurance taxes, among other topics. Before joining the Empire Center in 2016, Bill spent almost three decades in newspaper journalism, most recently as a columnist and editorial board member at the New York Daily News from 2005 to 2015.

Lara Kassel, Coordinator, Medicaid Matters New York

Lara Kassel is the Coordinator of Medicaid Matters New York (MMNY), a statewide coalition of over 140 organizations representing the interests of New Yorkers served by the Medicaid program. In this role, Lara organizes all of the activities of this diverse coalition, which works to ensure that Medicaid consumer interests are included, understood and met in any and all discussions on Medicaid in New York. She was a member of the original Medicaid Redesign Team, as well as the DSRIP Project Approval and Oversight Panel.

Katie Robbins, Director, Campaign for New York Health

Katie Robbins is the Director of the Campaign for New York Health, the statewide campaign advocating for universal, guaranteed health care in New York. She was the executive director of Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro chapter from 2014-2017, and served as national organizer with Healthcare-NOW! from 2008 – 2011 during the health care debate leading to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Katie Robbins

Melva D. Visher, Adjunct Professor of Community and School Health, Canisius College; (Retired) Vice President Community Health, Kaleida Health

Melva D. Visher has decades of experience in leadership, organizational development and capacity building through her work as a health care executive, college professor and in consulting with community-based non-profit organizations. She served as Vice President, Community Health, at Kaleida Health before retiring in 2012 after more than 38 years with the organization. Her academic leadership roles include serving as full-time faculty with Medaille College (2015-2018); and as Adjunct Professor with Canisius College (2012 – present); Daemen College (2001 – 2017); and Erie Community College (1997 – 2011). She has served as an independent organizational development consultant since 2018.

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