House bill allocates $1.2B for VA to create EHR 'identical' to DOD's Cerner system

In its fiscal year 2019 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill released April 25, the House Appropriations Committee — which is now considered a subcommittee — allotted $1.2 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs' new EHR.

The subcommittee's aim is to ensure the EHR is identical to the one being developed at the Department of Defense, which entered into a $4.3 billion deal with Cerner in 2015. Earlier this month, the U.S. Coast Guard said it planned to join the DOD's contract.

VA has been working on a deal with the North Kansas City, Mo.-based vendor since June 2017, when then-Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced his intent to overhaul its legacy system, VistA, with Cerner.

Though the House bill does not name Cerner specifically, the $1.2 billion would go to "activities related to implementation, preparation, development, interface, management, rollout and maintenance" of a modernized EHR. That amount is included in the VA's $194.5 billion for both discretionary and mandatory funding — up $9 billion from one year prior.

The appropriations bill also requires the VA secretary to submit quarterly reports to Congress on the obligations, expenditures and implementation considerations associated with the new system. However, as of now, the agency is operating without a permanent secretary. Robert Wilkie, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, has been serving as acting secretary of the agency since Dr. Shulkin was fired one month ago.

Click here to read the complete bill.

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