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Obama Says Technology Key to Cutting Health Care Costs, Improving Quality of Care

Location: Chicago, IL

Obama Says Technology Key to Cutting Health Care Costs, Improving Quality of Care
Monday, June 27, 2005

CHICAGO - At the University of Chicago Hospital, U.S. Senator Barack Obama said today that improved health information technology can greatly reduce the costs of health care and improve the quality of care patients receive.

"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."

Senator Obama joined Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in introducing the "Health Technology to Enhance Quality Act of 2005" on June 16th.

"This plan is going to help bring down costs, bring up quality, and bring the health care system into the 21st century," said Obama.

In the United States, nearly $1.5 trillion dollars a year is spent on health care in America. 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.

Increased use of medical technology will also help reduce medical errors. Each year, medical errors alone kill up to 98,000 people, more people than the number who die from AIDS each year.

The legislation would:

- Provide grants for the implementation of regional or local health information technology plans. The plan would authorize up to $125 million per year for five years in grants to implement regional or local health information plans that improve healthcare quality and efficiency through the use of interoperable heath information technology.

-Establish a National Coordinator of Health Information Technology to develop a nationwide health information technology infrastructure and to ensure patient health information is secure. The Coordinator will work to develop a nationwide interoperable health information technology infrastructure that reduces health care costs, improves quality, facilitates health care research and the reporting of public health information, and ensures that patient health information is secure and protected.

-Establish a process for the adoption and implementation of health information electronic exchange standards.

"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," said Obama. "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."

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