Lawmakers Pessimistic On VA-DoD E-Records Plan

Mitchell Armentrout | Marine Corps Times | February 28, 2013

The failure of decadelong efforts to streamline medical record-keeping for service members as they move between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments is “inexcusable,” a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee said Wednesday. “In the private sector, this would be done by now — it would have to be,” said Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. “I don’t feel the same sense of obligation here. I question the will to get it done.”

An ambitious plan to unite the departments under a single electronic health record system — years in the making — was abandoned this month in favor of a less costly plan to make DoD and VA systems “interoperable.” Administrative obstacles in the current system often delay treatment and payment of disability claims for veterans after they leave active duty, with records shuffled between VA and DoD.

Mike Viterna, president of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, said in an interview that the importance of improving the military health records system can’t be overemphasized. “These inefficiencies delay necessary care and compromise that care,” Viterna said. “People need their records for disability claims. They’re being underserved.”...