As former Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, I helped craft numerous laws to make health care better and more available to everyone. For instance, I authored laws to make health insurance portable from job-to-job; prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions; create a reporting system to reduce medical errors; double funding for the life-saving research conducted through the National Institutes of Health; stop nursing homes from evicting their poorer residents; and add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Now, as Vice-Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am working vigorously on several health care issues which I believe Congress should address before the end of the year.
I am pleased to report that the House of Representatives recently approved legislation I helped develop to renew the federal program which funds community health centers and ensure that health centers are able to continue their mission well into the future. This bill, the Health Centers Renewal Act (H.R. 5573), incorporates legislation I introduced to reauthorize the program and provide the necessary resources for the continued expansion of health centers in needed areas around the country.
The House also recently passed legislation my Committee produced to help children's hospitals continue providing care to their vulnerable patients. This bill, the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Support Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5574), provides funds to these hospitals to support their resident and intern training programs. All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, for example, receives approximately $1 million annually through this valuable program, which I helped create five years ago.
My Committee also is poised to revise and improve the Ryan White Comprehensive Aids Resources Emergency Act, which funds life-saving and life-sustaining treatment services for people with HIV and AIDS. The need for these services is particularly pronounced in Florida. According to the state's Bureau of HIV/AIDS, Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of reported AIDS cases in the most recent year for which data is available, while approximately 11 percent of the nation's HIV-infected population also lives in Florida.
I also am optimistic that the House may consider legislation on which I have worked to encourage the use of health information technology to improve care and lower costs. My Committee recently approved legislation, the Better Health Information System Act (H.R. 4157), that would speed the adoption of new technology so that medical information can be better and more securely transmitted between health care providers. I believe this bill will help providers improve their care and encourage the application of today's technology for better, safer, and more cost-effective care.
The enactment into law of these measures will continue to build upon my previous efforts to make health care better, less expensive, and more available when we need it most.
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