One of my top priorities in Congress is to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare for Hoosier families. The majority of people with health insurance obtain health coverage through their employer. Due to the current economic crisis that has impacted families across this country, millions of people have seen their healthcare coverage vanish along with their jobs. Fixing our healthcare system is equally urgent for economic growth, as business owners struggle to pay for employee health plans that seem to offer fewer benefits each year.
Right now, more than 46 million Americans have no health insurance, including over 960,000 Hoosiers--an increase of 22 percent in the last two years. Those who do have health insurance have seen premiums and out-of-pocket costs nearly double in the last seven years. There is no such thing as a silver bullet to fix America's healthcare crisis, but we need to do whatever we can to reduce the strain felt by millions of Americans and business owners. I am committed to making our current healthcare system more affordable and accessible.
Our ultimate goal must be to make healthcare available to all who want it. If we are to reduce the number of uninsured and reduce healthcare costs for working families, we will need strong leadership from a president who is willing to take bold steps and a Congress that will set aside partisan differences and work together. President Obama has proposed creative solutions to address the healthcare crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to debate the merits of these proposals and hopefully pass bipartisan legislation to provide for overdue comprehensive reform of the healthcare system.
About 60 percent of insured Americans are covered by their employers, but health coverage is the single fastest rising cost for businesses and often forces many small businesses to shut their doors. Rising costs can also have a detrimental effect on businesses' ability to recruit and retain employees because they are unable to guarantee affordable health insurance. In turn, this impacts our country's ability to innovate and remain competitive globally.
We must also reduce the frequency of expensive non-emergency visits to emergency rooms. With so many Americans struggling to afford healthcare, community health centers play a vital role in providing routine medical care to our nation's uninsured and underinsured. Community Health Centers currently serve 330,000 Hoosiers per year in cities like South Bend, LaPorte and Mishawaka. In the last seven years, the number of individuals served by these centers has nearly doubled. That is why I supported the reauthorization of and increased funding for our community health centers.
One way that we can cut costs and improve care today is by improving efficiency in the way we process healthcare information. Research has shown that by better using existing health information technology we can significantly reduce costs and medical errors, which could benefit consumers in the form of reduced insurance premiums. That is why I voted for legislation to provide funding for clinics and healthcare facilities to implement a health information technology system.
Finally, it is essential that our most vulnerable population--our children--are covered. I was proud that Congress successfully passed legislation to provide health care to more than 11 million children through the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This will allow for more children to be immunized, receive regular check-ups and, as a result, greatly increase their chances of living a long and healthy life.