House Appropriations Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Construction has mandated to allocate $1.2 Billion for VA’s pre planned modernization of EHR systems. The allocation is for the financial year 2019 – and the committee has directed the Veteran Affairs to implement the same Electronic Health Record that is used by the Department of Defense. Interestingly, there wasn’t any mention of Cerner.
This legislation clearly foretells that VA will now continue to work on and sign the currently stopped modernization contract with Cerner. According to the bill, An EHR system will be implemented that “is identical to one being developed for the Department of Defense, these two identical systems will ensure our veterans get proper care, with timely and accurate medical data transferred between the VA, DoD and the private sector.”
The funding is completely welcomed by the VA, but it will surely bring a serious time of change.
A number of changes have been made in the leadership of Veteran Affairs in the last month, the dismissal of VA Secretary David Shulkin, and the Acting CIO Scott Blackburn. Robert Wilkie, DoD official was temporarily named the acting secretary. Shulkin intended to sign the contract with Cerner in the fall, but it was put on hold due to interoperability concerns.
In a statement made by Committee Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, he said, “Providing critical resources for the men and women of our Armed Services and their families is a top priority, we owe it to those who serve and fight for our freedom every day to ensure they have the necessary tools and support to do their jobs.”
Veteran Affairs will receive almost $194.5 Billion in both mandatory and discretionary funding, $9 Billion more than financial year 2018, most of it is allocated to provide better healthcare services to Veterans. EHR system modernization is only a part of VA’s funding, which will be available to the agency by 2021.
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