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Commentary

Health Care and Homeland Security: Itís Catastrophic to Have One without the Other
David Merritt, Newt Gingrich, Chicago Tribune, 9-19-05

Gingrich points out that, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, we can see both the advantages of switching to electronic health records and the perils of allowing the countryís health care providers to lag in the adoption of information technology platforms:

Our system is a 1950s model of static paper records stored in filing cabinets, warehouses and hospital basements. It cannot cope with an extreme natural disaster such as Katrina or a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction. It cannot monitor and alert officials to a public-health crisis, such as a disease outbreak, and it cannot follow survivors as they are relocated to other states. These facts endanger the lives of our citizens.

What is Congress' response? Indications are that officials will table pending legislation on health information technology, even though it is an absolutely vital step to averting a repeat of Katrina and its aftermath. If Congress fails to pass a health IT bill this year, it could not be making a bigger mistake.


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