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HEALTH IT PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reports bill

HEALTH IT PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reports billWASHINGTON, D.C—Today, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and PensionsCommittee passed The Wired for Health Care Quality Act. Chairman Edward M. Kennedy andSenators Mike Enzi, Hillary Clinton and Orrin Hatch are the bill’s sponsors. The Act willmodernize health care for the 21st century by setting goal posts for improving health carethrough technology, reducing administrative costs and diminishing fatal errors caused by lackof information. The legislation creates a series of funding mechanisms to encourage the adoption of qualifiedhealth IT to improve the quality and efficiency of care. The bill also creates a demonstrationprogram to integrate qualified health IT in the clinical education of health professionals andencourage the use of decision support software to reduce medical errors. The bill establishes apublic-private partnership, known as the Partnership for Health Care Improvement, to providerecommendations to the Secretary regarding technical aspects of interoperability, standards,implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the exchange of health information.Chairman Kennedy said, “We have a responsibility to make the miracles of modern medicineavailable to every American. It’s long past time for the nation’s health care industry to adoptmodern information technology. Such technology has revolutionized a wide array of Americanindustries, and it holds the same promise for the health care industry. It has a clear capacityto increase efficiency and reduce costs at a time when the industry is being plagued by thealarming rise in health costs.” “Doctors, hospitals, health care advocates, and the business community – including smallbusiness – are clamoring for Congress to take action and establish uniform health ITstandards,” Senator Enzi said. “Time is of the essence – if we do not act, our health caresystem will move forward in a highly inefficient, fragmented and disjointed way. I urge theSenate leadership to bring our consensus legislation to the floor for consideration by the fullSenate as soon as possible, so that we can establish an interconnected, nationwide healthtechnology system to improve the quality of care in this country. This bill will eliminateduplicative tests and reduce medical errors. Moving from a paper-based health care system tosecure electronic medical records will save lives and reduce skyrocketing health care costs.”"This is an important day for patient safety and health care quality. With this committee'saction, we are a step closer to finally realizing the potential of health information technology tolower skyrocketing healthcare costs and improve the quality of care Americans receive byreducing medical errors, wasteful duplication and other inefficiencies in our healthcaresystem," said Senator Clinton. "Very soon, we're going to have completely different standards for publicly and privatelyinsured patients," Senator Hatch said. "That will seriously impair how health informationtechnology can improve care in the ways we all want to see. I'm grateful the committee actedso quickly on this bill."