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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am proud to join Senators FRIST and CLINTON in introducing the Health Technology to Enhance Quality Act of 2005.

Our national health care system is in crisis. Forty-five million Americans are uninsured, and this number continues to rise. Health care costs are increasing at almost double digit rates. Millions of Americans are suffering, and dying, from diseases such as diabetes or AIDS that could have been prevented or delayed for many years. And the chance of Americans receiving the right care, at the right time and for the right reason is no greater than the flip of a coin.

These health care issues are varied and complex, as are the solutions. But, as one of my constituents advised, it is time for us in the Congress to put on our hard hats, pick up our tool belts and get to work fixing our broken health care system.

One place to start is by bringing the health care system into the 21st century. In our lifetimes, we have seen some of the greatest advances in the history of technology and the sharing of information. Yet, in our health care system, too much care is still provided with a pen and paper. Too much information about patients is not shared between doctors or readily available to them in the first place. And providers too often do not have the information to know what care has worked most effectively and efficiently to make patients healthy.

Mistakes are easily made--medical errors alone kill up to 98,000 people a year, more people than the number who die from AIDS each year.

But embracing 21st century technology is not just about reducing errors and improving the quality of medical care. It is also about cost.

We spend nearly $1.5 trillion a year on health care in America. But a quarter of that money--one out of every four dollars--is spent on non-medical costs--most of it on bills and paperwork. Every transaction you make at a bank now costs them less than a penny. Yet, because we have not updated technology in the rest of the health care industry, a single transaction still costs up to $25--not one dime of which goes toward improving the quality of our health care.

The Health Technology to Enhance Quality Act of 2005 is going to help bring the health care system into the 21st century. This bill will lead to the development and implementation of health information technology standards to ensure interoperability of health information systems. The legislation codifies the Office of National Coordinator for Information Technology and establishes standards for the electronic exchange of health information. The bill also provides grant funding to support development of health information technology infrastructure as well as measurement of the quality of care provided to patients.

This legislation will help our health care system take a huge step forward. A vote for the Health TEQ Act is a vote for health care that is safe, effective, and affordable. I urge my colleagues to join us in passing this bill quickly.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

S. 1262


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