VA budget recommendation includes allocation for DoD-integrated EHR

Roughly $2 billion of the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs' $3.3 billion IT budget, proposed this week, would be allocated toward healthcare systems, according to an article in Nextgov. Overall, the VA's total discretionary budget, FierceGovernmentIT reports, would total slightly more than $61 billion.

Specifically, more than $221 million would be used for joint records projects between the VA and the U.S. Department of Defense. VA requested $169 million for VA-DoD integrated electronic health record systemand $52.9 million for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) project, which was expanded last fall. The VLER pilot initially was launched in April 2009.

In a recommendation report, four veterans service organizations--AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars--called the proposed spending figures fair, but also called for more funding for the "continued revision of medical care collections," in addition to maintaining construction budget levels "to maintain the infrastructure for a quality VA healthcare system."

"Our government has a moral obligation to provide the necessary resources and put in place policies that will ensure timely, accurate decisions on disability compensation claims and guarantee prompt access to a full range of top-quality healthcare for our nation's veterans," Disabled American Veterans National Commander Gary Fry said in a statement this week.

According to Nextgov, the VA could possibly be rethinking the decision to host its EHRs in data centers operated by the Defense Information Systems Agency, a process that's expected to begin next month.

To learn more:
- here's the proposed VA budget (.pdf)
- read FierceGovernmentIT's roundup
- check out Nextgov's article
- look at this announcement from the veterans groups

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