Full Committee Markup -- H.R. 3877
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
Today the Committee meets to markup 3 bills dealing with a wide range of issues.
The first bill we will markup, H.R. 2406, deals with the issue of healthcare information technology. The broad use of IT in the healthcare sector could have far reaching benefits, including saving tens of billions of dollars per year, improving the quality of medical care, and reducing dangerous medical errors.
But meeting the challenge of developing and maintaining such a system is not simple. In order to achieve broad implementation, we need widely accepted technical standards that will let healthcare IT systems interoperate while protecting patient privacy.
H.R. 2406 authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to increase its efforts to support the integration of healthcare IT in the United States, to develop or adopt existing technical healthcare IT standards for Federal agencies, and to create a university grant program for multidisciplinary research in healthcare IT.
The bill is based on the recommendations of a report by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) in 2004 and a study by the National Academies in 2005.
The next bill we will markup is H.R. 3877, which addresses the issue of underground mine communication technology.
Tragedies in West Virginia and Utah over the last few years have given us a painful illustration of the need for robust emergency communications in mines.
H.R. 3877 authorizes research and standards development programs to address the important challenge of communications technology for underground mines. The bill authorizes an R&D and standards development program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to promote development of innovative communications and tracking technologies for underground mines.
To be clear, this bill does not in any way diminish the role of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIST’s efforts to promote improved communications technology through R&D and technical standards support NIOSH’s important work.
Historically, NIST has worked with industry and Federal agencies on long- term R&D projects and development of technical standards, including first responder radio communications, and is the best agency to bridge the research and technology gap in the field of mine communications.
Finally, we will also consider H.R. 1834 introduced by our colleague on the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Saxton. The National Ocean Exploration and National Undersea Research Program Act formally authorizes two programs at NOAA that have made important contributions to our knowledge of the oceans and developed technologies that enable us to explore these vast areas of our planet.
Once again the Committee has 3 good bills in front of it which address 3 different, but critical issues.
And once again, we are marking up both Republican and Democratic bills, because as I have said before, good ideas are good ideas regardless of where they come from. I urge my colleagues to support each of these good bills.