House Appropriations Committee leaders support VA electronic health records overhaul

The Trump administration’s announcement on Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would adopt the same electronic health records (EHR) platform as the Department of Defense (DoD) met applause from leaders of the House Appropriations Committee.

The effort, which Congress has supported for years, is expected to streamline and modernize the VA’s EHR system and provide a smoother transition when service members leave the military.

U.S. Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Charlie Dent (R-PA), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Martha Roby (R-AL), a member of the Subcommittee on Defense, applauded the Trump administration’s announcement.

“This decision has been a long time in coming,” Frelinghuysen said. “I have personally discussed the mismatch between the Department of Defense medical records system and the Veterans Affairs system with the last several secretaries of both departments. To avoid interruptions in care or expensive redundancy, the Appropriations Committee has demanded that the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense use an identical or at least compatible or interoperable network.”

Dent noted that a collaborative approach between Congress and the VA would be needed to further assess the proposal and applauded VA Secretary David Shulkin for announcing the first step in the process.

“The implementation of an effective electronic health record system that provides integrated service between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense has been a bipartisan priority and goal for a long time,” Dent said. “My focus is to provide the best care possible for veterans, supported by a modern electronic health record system that best serves their needs as they transition from active to veteran status and protects their personal information in a cost-effective manner.”

Roby, meanwhile, echoed Frelinghuysen and Dent’s sentiment that the VA EHR modernization was long overdue.

“It has never made sense to me that the VA would use a different health record system than the Department of Defense,” Roby said. “These inconsistent systems lead to unnecessary gaps in health care for veterans, many times when they need it most. I applaud President Trump and Secretary Shulkin for taking this important step to improve and streamline veterans’ health care.”