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WASHINGTON, D.C— Today, legislation put forth by Senator Edward M. Kennedy andcolleagues, Senators Mike Enzi, Hillary Clinton and Orrin Hatch to modernize health care forthe 21st century successfully was introduced in the United States Senate. Patient care declinesin quality when physicians do not have access to timely information about the patients theyserve and health care costs skyrocket when tests or procedures are duplicated because criticalrecords are missing or inaccessible. Wasting scarce health care dollars on needlessadministrative costs drives up insurance premiums, and means that care is less affordable andless available. The Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2007 sets forth the goal posts forimproving health care through technology, reducing administrative costs and diminishing fatalerrors caused by lack of information. Senator Kennedy said, “We have a responsibility to make the miracles of modern medicineavailable to every American. However, in our health care system, medical errors are all toocommon and coordination of care is often poor. Rising costs are crushing our health caresystem.” Senator Enzi said, “Time is of the essence – without uniform standards, the industry is movingforward in a fragmented and disjointed direction. By passing this bill, we can establish aninterconnected, nationwide health technology system to improve the quality of care in thiscountry. This bill will eliminate duplicative tests and reduce medical errors. Moving from apaper-based health care system to secure electronic medical records will save lives and reduceskyrocketing health care costs.” Senator Clinton said, "Americans are blessed with access to the most advanced medical carein the world, but burdened with a healthcare system that is plagued by medical errors,wasteful duplication and other inefficiencies that jeopardize patient safety and contribute toskyrocketing healthcare costs. Harnessing the power of health information technology will helpmake our healthcare system more efficient, more effective and help make sure precious healthcare dollars are used wisely." Senator Hatch said, “We’re facing a Tower of Babel in health care,” Hatch said. “If we don’tact, we’ll soon have completely different standards for publicly and privately insured patients.That will seriously impair the improvements in care that we all want to see through the use ofhealth information technology. We simply can’t miss this chance.” IT systems are linked securely and with strong privacy protections to a patient’s medicalrecords and can improve care by warning a doctor or nurse if an order or prescription mayharm a patient. These systems can issue reminders for screening tests, so that neededpreventive care is not overlooked. Computerized records also allow doctors to look at apatient’s entire medical record at once, improving care coordination in our fragmented healthcare system. The savings from better IT use are enormous. The Federal government’s estimate is that thenation would save $140 billion each year from proper IT use. These savings from health ITcould cut the cost of a family’s insurance policy by over $700—which equates to approximatelya month of free health care. Despite the benefits of investment in health IT, utilization is low.The Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2007 will give health care providers the assistancethey need to invest in lifesaving health IT. The Wired for Health Care Quality Act Information technology is transforming all aspects of our modern society, but adoption of ITwithin health care has progressed slowly. IT systems linked securely and with strong privacyprotections to patients’ medical records can improve the quality and efficiency of care whileproducing significant cost savings. Despite the potential benefits of health IT, investment andadoption has been limited, particularly among smaller providers who are most affected by thefinancial cost of implementing a health IT system. The Wired for Health Care Quality Act wouldgive health care providers the assistance they need to invest in lifesaving health IT. The legislation encourages the development of standards for health IT through:• Codifying the role of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology incoordinating the policies of federal agencies regarding health IT.• Establishing a public–private partnership known as the Partnership for Health CareImprovement to provide recommendations to the Secretary with regard to technicalaspects of interoperability, standards, implementation specifications, and certificationcriteria for the exchange of health information. The National Coordinator will serve asa liaison to the Partnership. The legislation also requires the Secretary to publish aschedule for assessment of standards for significant use cases after consulting with thePartnership.• Requiring all Federal IT purchases conform to the standards recommended by thePartnership and adopted by the President. Adoption of these standards is voluntaryfor private entities.• Establishing the American Health Information Community as a body providingrecommendations to the Secretary regarding policies to promote the development of anationwide interoperable health information technology infrastructure. These includerecommendations regarding patient privacy, information security, and appropriateuses of health information.The legislation assures strong privacy protections for electronic health informationby:• Requiring that the national strategy on health IT includes strong privacy protections,including methods to notify patients if their medical information is wrongfullydisclosed.The legislation encourages the adoption of qualified health IT to improve the qualityand efficiency of care by:• Providing grants for the purchase of health IT systems to providers demonstratingfinancial need.• Providing grants to states to establish low interest loan programs to help providersacquire health IT systems that will improve the quality and efficiency of health care.• Providing grants to facilitate the implementation of regional or local health informationplans to improve health care quality and efficiency through the electronic exchange ofhealth informationThe legislation will help providers use IT to improve quality by:• Providing grants to integrate qualified health IT in the clinical education of healthprofessionals and encourage the use of decision support software to reduce medicalerrors.• Requiring the Secretary to designate a single organization to develop healthcareperformance measures.• Establishing a Health Information Technology Resource Center where IT users canlearn from the previous experience of others who have implemented qualified healthIT. ###