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Amending the Budget

Mar 26 2009

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Warner has spent most of the day in "markup," a process where the committee edits the budget proposal before it goes to the Senate floor.

During the day-long session, Senators sat at a board room table to discuss and vote on their revisions.  Among them were two of Senator Warner's own amendments that will bring additional performance measurements and greater transparency to health care reform and transportation spending.  Both amendments received unanimous, bipartisan support from the committee members.   

One of the big priorities in the budget is expanded use of health information technology and data collection to improve patient safety and quality of care. Senator Warner's amendment adds language promoting the use of health IT to advance transparency in cost and quality information so that American consumers are informed about their health care options.

Under the current system, consumers can't determine the true cost of their health care plan.  In fact, we often incorrectly assume the more you pay, the better the quality of care.  As a result, we rarely shop for plans that best fulfill our health care needs, causing us to use and over use the system.  

Senator Warner's amendment will create transparency in pricing and quality, so consumers can make the most informed decision before they seek medical treatment.  Eventually, this transparency will shift the power back into the hands of consumers, and ultimately influence the market to produce the best, highest-quality health care services and plans.

The second amendment requires that future multimodel transportation projects -- those that link more than one type of transportation, such as road, rail, ports and airport -- must include performance measurements and a cost-benefit analysis.

Both amendments are consistent with Senator Warner’s remarks during his maiden floor speech in the U.S. Senate earlier this week, in which he called for a broad array of new accountability measurements based on credible standards that track both short- and longer-term outcomes to begin restoring taxpayer confidence in Washington.

The Budget Resolution will be put to a vote on the Senate floor next week.