House Funding Bill Allocates $1.2B for VA EHR System Next Year | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

House Funding Bill Allocates $1.2B for VA EHR System Next Year

April 27, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints
Language in the legislation seems to suggest that the VA-Cerner EHR contract will be signed sooner than later

The House Appropriations Committee has released its Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill for 2019, including $1.2 billion for the new VA electronic health record (EHR) system.

In total, the legislation provides $96.9 billion in discretionary funding – $4.2 billion above the fiscal year enacted 2018 level. As stated in a press release from the Appropriations Committee, “The bill contains $1.2 billion for the new VA electronic health record system. This will ensure the implementation of the contract creating an electronic record system for VA that is identical to one being developed for DoD [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.”

It should be noted that the legislation does not mention Cerner, the health IT vendor that VA awarded a contract to modernize its EHR system, by name, but the language does foreshadow that the VA-Cerner EHR contract will be signed eventually since it mentions that the IT system mirror the DoD’s, which was developed by Cerner. To this end, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour recently wrote in a statement that one of VA’s specific near-term priorities is to “finalize a decision on the department’s electronic health record modernization.”

Reports have surfaced that the contract, which has not yet been signed, will be in the $10 billion range, making it one of the largest health IT implementations in history. The hefty cost has concerned Congressional members since that $10 billion figure doesn’t even include infrastructure improvements or implementation support.

As Healthcare Informatics reported last month when President Trump ousted VA Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., negotiations between VA and Cerner have been delayed. In December, Shulkin announced “a strategic pause” in the EHR acquisition process, with the purpose being to conduct an assessment of national interoperability language contained in the Request for Proposal that would ultimately support an EHR contract award. MITRE Corporation would be conducting the external assessment and Shulkin said earlier this month that MITRE provided the VA with 51 recommendations, and that the agency was building these into the contract with Cerner.

Reports at the time were that Shulkin was set to sign the Cerner contract soon, but nonetheless, other EHR vendors saw his dismissal as a potential signal that they could get back in the bidding process. One such company, CliniComp International, a San Diego-based EHR vendor, sued the government last summer, attesting that VA improperly awarded its EHR upgrade contract to Cerner without a competitive bidding process. Following Shulkin’s firing yesterday, Chris Haudenschild, the CEO of EHR firm CliniComp, said in a statement, per a recent Politico’s eHealth newsletter, that "Acting Secretary Wilkie should delay the award of any EHR modernization contract so that the next Secretary has an opportunity to fully review the facts."

As this all continues to play out, Robert Wilkie, DoD undersecretary, is serving as acting VA secretary in the interim. Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson just recently withdrew as President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the VA due to allegations around his professional conduct.

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

KLAS Research: Small Hospitals’ Buying Decisions Impacting EMR Market Share

A new KLAS Research report tracks shifts in electronic medical record (EMR) vendor market share among acute care hospitals, and finds that smaller hospitals are seeking technology solutions that meet their needs and limited budgets, and these contracts are making a mark on the EMR market.

Survey: Majority of Providers Predict Success for New Generic Drug Company, Project Rx

Back in January, four health systems, in consultation with the VA, announced a collaboration to develop a new, not-for-profit generic drug company. A survey has found that 90 percent of providers say they would become customers of the new venture.

Personalized Medicine Awareness Low Among U.S. Adults, Survey Finds

Genetics and personalized medicine are not top of mind for the general public in the U.S., according to a recent survey from GenomeWeb and the Personalized Medicine Coalition.

Industry Organizations Praise Senate Passage of VA Mission Act

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed, by a vote of 92-5, a major Veterans Affairs (VA) reform bill that includes health IT-related provisions to improve health data exchange between VA healthcare providers and community care providers.

NIH Issues Funding Announcement for All of Us Genomic Research Program

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) “All of Us” Research Program has issued a funding announcement for genome centers to generate genotype and whole genome sequence data from participants’ biosamples.

MGMA: Physician Compensation Data Illustrates Nationwide PCP Shortage

Primary care physicians’ compensation rose by more than 10 percent over the past five years, representing an increase which is nearly double that of specialty physicians’ compensation over the same period, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).