President Bush combined political fund-raising with a pitch for improvements in the nation's health care system Thursday, telling a friendly crowd at a children's hospital that the medical field must computerize all patient records in the next decade.
"The federal government cannot run the system" as well as healthcare professionals, Bush said to applause from an audience of 900 people at Vanderbilt University Children's Hospital, Nashville. The hospital is a pioneer in the field of computerized record-keeping for patients.
Bush said replacing paper with computerized records for patient files and prescriptions will "change our country for the better and reduce medical errors."
The president is trying to solidify his support in a Southern state where Democratic rival John Kerry is showing strength. The Kerry campaign argues that Bush is focusing on small issues at the expense of larger problems, such as skyrocketing healthcare costs and the millions without health insurance.
Family health insurance premiums are up more than 40% in the last four years, and 3.7 million Americans have lost health insurance coverage since Bush took office, the Kerry campaign said, citing federal data and industry figures.
Bush said his administration is addressing problems with such measures as drug discount cards, tax-free health savings accounts and expanded federal support for community health centers with the goal of serving 16 million people.