OBAMA: TECHNOLOGY KEY TO CUTTING HEALTH CARE COSTS, IMPROVING QUALITY OF CARE
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today said the Senate took an important step towards passing legislation to improve health information technology that would greatly reduce the costs of health care and improve the quality of care.
"In our lifetimes, we've seen some of the greatest advances in the history of technology and the sharing of information," said Obama. "Yet, in our health care system, too much care is still provided with a pen and paper. Too much information about patients isn't shared between doctors or readily available to them in the first place. And providers too often don't have the information to know what care has worked most effectively and efficiently to make patients healthy."
In the United States, nearly $1.5 trillion dollars a year is spent on health care. But one out of every four dollars is spent on non-medical costs, most of it on bills and paperwork. While banks have cut transaction costs to less than a penny with updated technology, our health care system spends up to twenty-five dollars on a single transaction - not one dime of which goes toward improving the quality of our health care.
It is estimated that the nation would save $140 billion per year from proper use of internet technology in the health care system. This savings would be passed along to the consumer to cut the cost of a family's insurance policy by more than $700.
"This plan is going to help bring down costs, improve quality, and bring the health care system into the 21st century," said Obama. "I am pleased that this legislation was passed on a bipartisan basis by the HELP Committee, and I look forward to voting for it on the Senate floor."
The legislation would:
* Provide grants for the implementation of regional or local health information technology plans.
* Establish a National Coordinator of Health Information Technology to develop a nationwide health information technology infrastructure and to ensure patient health information is secure.
* Establish a process for the adoption and implementation of health information electronic exchange standards.
The bill passed the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee today.