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Israel holds health care forum in Woodbury

Rep. Steve Israel held a health care forum in Woodbury Thursday to share the stories of three women he characterized as "victims of the health care status quo."

"I wanted to hear firsthand how they were denied coverage and fought battles against a system where profit comes before the quality of care," Israel (D-Huntington) said at the event on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Woodbury campus.

During a question-and-answer session later, some said they were concerned about the health care reform plans swirling around Washington. Several people said they were concerned that the option of buying health care from the federal government would not kick in until 2013, although Israel said there was no certainty that such a program would be included in the final bill.

"Why so long? Democrats are in the majority," audience member Phyllis Kovacs, 59, of Huntington Station asked during the two-hour session.

Israel said it was difficult even for Democrats to agree, and that "sound bites" from opponents were muddying the issue.

The invitation-only event went off without any of the shouting and disruptions that have marked recent town-hall-type meetings on health care.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) found himself shouted down at times at a Setauket town hall meeting in June.

Catherine Marquardt, 37, of North Babylon, said at Israel's forum Thursday that her insurance company balked at coverage for her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and that she won her battle only after Israel's office intervened.

Carol Gordon of Massapequa said she has been getting treatment in emergency rooms for two years after leaving her Veterans Affairs job and losing her insurance.

Kay Ingraham of Holbrook said her daughter, Victoria, had to battle her insurance company to get the proper medication for Crohn's disease, which affects the bowel.

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