Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, says it's a national scandal that many Americans lack adequate health care.

In a special hearing of the House Select Committee on Aging held in Minneapolis on Thursday, Owens said, "In our nation as a whole, there are approximately 37 million people uninsured."For a country that prides itself on being the most technologically advanced, it is a national scandal that so many Americans lack adequate health care."

He also noted, "Based on 1986 figures, approximately 259,000 Utahns (16.8 percent of Utah's population) under age 65 were uninsured."

And Utah has one of the best rates of people who are insured, he added.

Owens encouraged the committee to study recommendations from health departments in Minnesota and Utah and to better fund programs to improve access to health care for the uninsured.

Congress this year is expected to wage a battle between a bill pushed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to force most employers to provide health insurance (which critics say would force many companies to cut their work force), and one by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would try to improve health care access by lowering its costs by reforming malpractice and other laws.