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PCAST Members Advise President on Future of Healthcare, Energy
Date:8/21/2009

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) tackled pressing issues facing the country -- namely healthcare reform, energy and the environment -- and the President is listening.

"There is little about our healthcare system that does not concern us," said David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology, to the Council. A primary care physician, he noted that less than 20 percent of doctors in the U.S. have access to "meaningful electronic medical records," and far fewer put these to "meaningful use." He raised three major challenges that policymakers and healthcare providers need to address: adoption, exchange of information, and the optimal use of information.

His colleague in the Obama administration, Aneesh Chopra, the federal Chief Technology Officer, said costs have been prohibitive, but entrepreneurial innovation always brings them lower.

"We have the capability, if we set the rules correctly, to unleash the forces of innovation," Chopra said. "In many cases, we need laws, budgets and other aspects of public policy; in others we just need to tap into the collective innovation of individuals and entrepreneurs." Chopra went on to say that principles are needed that helped the Internet -- but with increased security and privacy in place.

Robert Sussman, Senior Policy Counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency told PCAST, "We are at a moment of significant transition ... we have a government commitment to address climate change that we have never had before." He raised the prospects of carbon capture and storage technologies, since 50 percent of U.S. electricity comes from coal and these emissions are a major contributor worldwide to greenhouse gases. The technology would capture the carbon dioxide before it's released into the environment, then compact it into liquid form and store it beneath the earth.

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