House Seeks Details on VA's Health Record Push

Adam Mazmanian | FCW | April 30, 2014

House Republicans are seeking clarity and detail from the Department of Veterans Affairs on plans to improve the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture electronic health record system and make it interoperable with a Department of Defense effort that is still in the planning stages.

The appropriations bill that funds the VA and military construction, which the House passed April 30 by a vote of 416-1, requires the agency to update Congress on progress to modernize VistA, since it decoupled its efforts to create an integrated health record from those at Defense in February 2013.

The two-year appropriation backs more than $3.8 billion for IT and about $550 million for systems modernization, but only 25 percent of the funding can be released until VA shares a development roadmap on VistA Evolution -- including any re-scoping, changes to cost estimates, testing plans and other efforts to ensure interoperability with the DoD system.Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds VA, wrote in an April 30 op-ed that he expects similar language in the Defense authorization bill, requiring that Congress be kept in the loop on development of an electronics health records system at DOD.