Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on VA Oversight, IT Modernization

On Wednesday, May 3rd, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies held a hearing entitled “2018 Veterans Affairs Oversight.” The hearing featured one witness, Dr. David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The hearing provided an opportunity for members of the Committee to review the VA’s operational and budget priorities for FY2018, including VistA modernization, the possible acquisition of a commercial off-the-shelf EHR, and DoD-VA interoperability.

In his opening statement Dr. Shulkin said that “we need Congress to fund our IT modernization, to keep legacy systems from failing, and to increase the interoperability of electronic health records.” In response to a question from Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) about the status of VistA modernization vs. purchasing a commercially available EHR, Dr. Shulkin responded by saying the “VA has to get out of the business of becoming a software developer[…] this is not our core competency.” The VA is currently evaluating two paths for VistA - replacing VistA with a commercially available EHR or finding a company to take over and support VistA modernization.  According to Dr. Shulkin, a final decision on VistA is scheduled to take place in July.