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Washington, D.C. Today, marking a dramatic step forward in healthcare, Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s bill, the Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2005 passed the United States Senate by unanimous consent. The bill will improve the care that patients receive, as we know that care declines in quality when physicians do not have access to timely information about the patients they serve. The bill will help curb health care costs, as we know that costs skyrocket when tests or procedures are duplicated because critical records are missing or inaccessible. The bill will save money, as we know that wasting scarce health care dollars on needless administrative costs drives up insurance premiums, and means that care is less affordable and less available. The Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2005 sets forth the goal posts for improving health care through technology, reducing administrative costs and diminishing fatal errors caused by lack of information. Senator Kennedy has been speaking out on the benefits and need for health information technology since 1977. Senator Kennedy said, “We have a responsibility to make the miracles of modern medicine available to every American. However, in our health care system, medical errors are all too common and coordination of care is often poor. Americans deserve a health care that controls rising costs and prevents premiums from crushing our health care system. Today is the first day of the future of health care.” IT systems are linked securely and with strong privacy protections to a patient’s medical records and can improve care by warning a doctor or nurse if an order or prescription may harm a patient. These systems can issue reminders for screening tests, so that needed preventive care is not overlooked. Computerized records also allow doctors to look at a patient’s entire medical record at once, improving care coordination in our fragmented health care system. The savings from better IT use are enormous. The Federal government’s estimate is that the nation would save $140 billion each year from proper IT use. These savings from health IT could cut the cost of a family’s insurance policy by over $700--which equates to approximately a month of free health care. Despite the benefits of investment in health IT, utilization is low. The Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2005 will give health care providers the assistance they need to invest in lifesaving health IT. Kennedy also said, “Premiums are going through the roof. The ranks of the uninsured grow every day. When millions of Americans struggle to afford health care for their families, it is profoundly wrong to squander more than half a trillion dollars each year on administrative expenses from using obsolete paper records instead of modern information technology throughout the healthcare system.”