Full Committee Markup -- H.R. 1467
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
Today the Committee is meeting to markup four bills.
The first bill we will consider today is a bill that I introduced, H.R. 364, which establishes an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy. In the subcommittee hearing and markup we had a very healthy discussion that, I believe, pointed to the critical need for such an entity.
We have worked hard with our friends across the aisle. And, while there are still substantial differences, it has resulted in a better bill. It is my understanding that this discussion will continue today with a number of amendments, and I look forward to addressing your concerns.
The next bill we will take up is H.R. 1467, the 10,000 Trained by 2010 Act introduced by Chairman Wu. This is a good bill which I support.
There has been a lot of talk in Washington about the need to push healthcare IT forward. Our medical system is far behind other sectors in the use of information technology. However, it is common knowledge that information technology could significantly improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs.
While there has been a lot of discussion on the issue in Congress, not much has actually been done. In this case, Chairman Wu and other Members of the Committee have identified one component of the issue and how the Science and Technology Committee could make a real and positive contribution in this area.
I strongly support this legislation and would urge everyone on the Committee to do so as well.
H.R. 1716, the Green Energy Education Act of 2007, was reintroduced by Mr. McCaul this year after having passed the House as part of a broader bipartisan Science Committee Energy R & D bill at the end of the 109th Congress.
H.R. 1716 raises the profile of a very important issue – university research and education on clean energy, including energy efficiency and green building design and technologies. It would bring together the Department of Energy, a mission agency, and the National Science Foundation, which has a long history with science and technology education, in a common goal to help educate the next generation of energy technology experts and green building professionals.
This bill helps meet a very important need and I thank Mr. McCaul for bringing it to the Committee.
We will also consider by Mr. Lipinski, H.R. 632, the H-Prize act of 2007. Hydrogen technologies represent just the type of transformational possibilities that we are hoping to achieve with ARPA-E, and may some day make up an important piece of our energy puzzle.
I commend my colleagues Mr. Inglis and Mr. Lipinski for working together and for working hard to make this a good, bipartisan bill. I look forward to moving it through committee today.
These are four good bills, and I strongly encourage my colleagues to support all of them.
Opening Statement By Rep. David Wu (D-OR)
We have a busy morning and I will be brief in my comments on this bill. Other Members of this Committee and I have been working on the issue of healthcare IT for almost two years. The genesis of H.R. 1467 was a roundtable I held in Oregon in August 2005. This roundtable was followed by an Environment, Standards and Technology Subcommittee field hearing on healthcare information technology (IT) in February 2006. Rep. Reichert chaired the hearing and Ranking Member Hall also had staff in attendance. One of the common issues raised at both of these events was the lack of training folks who are experts in both healthcare and information technology.
Despite the federal focus on developing a national electronic healthcare records system there is no systematic plan for the training of current and prospective professionals in both healthcare and information technology. Without this specialized training, technology often is just a box on a desk.
The need for individuals to manage healthcare IT is expected to grow 49% between 2000 and 2010 and nearly 75% of health organizations indicate there are not enough qualified applicants positions.
I would like to point out that the Science & Technology Committee has a history of developing specific training and research programs for IT professionals. During the 107th Congress, the Committee became concerned that the lack of specialized computer security training for IT students and professionals was a contributing factor in the lack of good computer security practices and software. As a result the Committee developed and moved H.R. 3394, the CyberSecurity Research and Development Act (subsequently P.L 107-305).
H.R. 1467 consists of four components:
1. It authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award research grants for innovative approaches to enhancing healthcare informatics. And I want to make clear that this provision builds upon existing NSF activities.
2. It authorizes NSF to support multidisciplinary Health and Medical Informatics Research Centers to perform research and to train qualified healthcare informatics personnel and professionals.
3. It authorizes NSF to establish a grant program to improve undergraduate, masters and certificate programs in healthcare informatics. The goal is to increase the number of students and the quality of their training in the field. This program allows both 4-year and 2-year institutions to participate as well as allowing for the development of continuing education curricula.
4. Finally, it authorizes NSF’s Advanced Technology Education Program (ATE) which focuses solely on 2-year colleges to support improved education and technical training for healthcare informatics.
H.R. 1467 is a bipartisan product of this Committee. Ranking Member Hall and I introduced this bill in the last Congress. This Congress we re-introduced the bill along with Chairman Gordon and Ranking Member Gingrey of the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee. I have spoken to Dr. Gingrey about healthcare IT, and he knows first hand the challenges involved in integrating IT into medical settings.
We all recognize the benefits that an integrated health IT network could provide in terms of improved patient care, safety, privacy and potential cost-savings. However, investment in physical infrastructure and technology alone is not enough. We need to research and training programs for healthcare and IT professionals to utilize and design the system as well.