Senate Veteran Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on the Future of the VA

On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing titled "The Future of the VA: Examining the Commission on Care Report and VA’s Response" to review the report released in July by the Commission on Care. Tasked with better care for veterans, The Commission made 18 recommendations to improve veterans' medical services and the Veterans Health Administration.  The hearing featured 3 panels of witnesses and  focused on various VA practices and programs including the Veterans choice program, employee practices, and a review of the commissions various recommendations.

Throughout the hearing, Commission on Care recommendation #7 - “Modernize VA’s IT systems and infrastructure” - was brought up by both the witnesses and members of the committee.  In response to questioning on the VHA’s progress on IT, Dr. David Shulkin, VA Undersecretary for Health, responded that the VA was “breaking down years of barriers, and heading in the right direction” while citing VA CIO Laverne Council’s outstanding leadership on IT issues. During the second panel, Sen. Boozman (R-AR) asked Commissioner Thomas Harvey to elaborate on the VHA’s willingness to consider an off-the-shelf IT solution.  Commissioner Harvey stated that “the VA has had a terrible time getting IT right.” He elaborated further saying “a proof of concept is something he would like to see” before the VA implements a complex and costly off the shelf system to take care of medical records, billing, and scheduling, further adding that such an integrated system “would be a huge jump from VISTA.”