Catholic Makes Health Bill Accessible Online

Former Steubenville Professor Offers Searchable Version

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By Karna Swanson

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, DEC. 15, 2009 ( As the Senate looks to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill by Christmas, a former professor of business at the Franciscan University of Steubenville is looking to help Congress make a more informed decision.

Douglas Lowry, founder and president of Marpex Inc., has made available to legislators and the general public a searchable, online version of the health care reform legislation, as it is currently being debated in the Senate.

Lowry, who holds a doctorate from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told ZENIT he developed the online version of the bill for “decision-makers, reporters, and commentators. At the same time, it is free to all who want to download or search, since an informed populace is the backbone of democracy.”

“Busy people, least of all senators, do not have time to fully digest 2,074 pages of legal prose,” he explained. “The search engine is designed to get at meaning quickly on whatever topics happen to be of particular interest.

“For example, if someone inputs the three words ‘long term care’ (without the quotes), the top three of the six hits are directly on topic, the fourth suggests further search on ‘chronic care,’ the fifth indicates an alternate spelling (long-term) and suggests further search on combinations such as ‘elderly disabled care.’

“The person searching is not obliged to sift through many dozens of poor hits in which the desired terms are far apart. There are just a few hits, and almost all those are on target.”

Above all, Lowry said that the online version provides “a quick way to fact-check statements,” and to “help people to get at meaning that is relevant to them, quickly.”

The developer said that he hasn’t heard yet if any senators are using his service, but he hopes some will be able to use it and maybe even send him the amendments as they are added.

The online version of the health care bill is part of his Words Close Together project, which seeks to create more adequate search engines for research purpose.

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On the Net:

Senate’s health care reform bill:

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