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Public Statements

Letter to Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense - iEHR Veterans Health Records

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recommending that the Department of Defense (DOD) deviate from a proposed plan to accept bids for a new software program for servicemembers' electronic health records. If DOD moves forward with the bidding process, it will maintain the problematic practice of using two distinct health records systems at DOD and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) instead of one shared system (iEHR) as originally planned.

"Two separate health records systems at DoD and VA will not adequately address the serious challenges that our nation's veterans face today," Blumenthal and Wicker wrote. "As older veterans continue to encounter barriers to the benefits that they deserve, and as so many new veterans enter the VA health system for the first time, a single iEHR would better optimize the care and services that these individuals receive than separate, interoperable systems."

On May 22, 2013, DOD announced that it was seeking bids for a new software program for servicemembers' electronic health records. This new software would be interoperable, rather than fully integrated with the VA's EHR system thereby creating two separate health records systems at both departments rather than a single, common iEHR system.

"As members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, we appreciate your continued work on behalf of our nation's service men and women," Blumenthal and Wicker wrote. "We urge you to act swiftly and work with Secretary Shinseki to keep the iEHR project on track to meet the Administration's goal of full operability by 2017."

Text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Hagel,

We write to express our concerns about the ongoing project between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a single, common, integrated electronic health records (iEHR) system that will provide a seamless care transition for servicemembers as they move from active duty service to veteran status.

On May 22, 2013, your Department announced that it is seeking bids for a new software program for servicemembers' electronic health records. However, we are concerned that this development is a step in the wrong direction. Two separate health records systems at DoD and VA will not adequately address the serious challenges that our nation's veterans face today.

As older veterans continue to encounter barriers to the benefits that they deserve, and as so many new veterans enter the VA health system for the first time, a single iEHR would better optimize the care and services that these individuals receive than separate, interoperable systems. We urge you to act swiftly and work with Secretary Shinseki to keep the iEHR project on track to meet the Administration's goal of full operability by 2017.

We look forward to continuing to work with you on this critical issue, and would appreciate receiving a reply from you by June 30, 2013. Thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator

Roger Wicker
United States Senator


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