Trump earmarks $1.2 billion for VA-Cerner EHR project in proposed budget

The proposed funding is a substantial investment into the initiative, which the administration said will help to facilitate a seamless transition.
By Jessica Davis
11:00 AM
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Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, MD, testifies before the House Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee. Credit: YouTube

In the proposed budget from the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs would get 11.7 percent more in funding or $4.2 billion -- including $1.2 billion for the first year of its Cerner EHR project.

Calling the $1.2 billion “substantive investment for this critical initiative,” the administration said the funds would help to “facilitate a seamless transition for service members as they leave the armed forces.”

The $1.2 billion sets aside $675 million as a down payment for the contract, $412 million in infrastructure improvements and $120 million for project management.

[UPDATE: House balks at $10 billion price tag for VA-Cerner EHR project]

The Trump administration proposes $83.1 billion for the VA -- or $8.2 billion more than in 2017. The $4.2 billion for the agency’s Office of Information and Technology, however, is about $300 million less than FY18. About $200 million would be designated to supporting the VA’s legacy VistA and other legacy systems until the Cerner project is rolled out.

The total will also give $70.7 billion for VA healthcare, about 9.6 more from last year. Further, the funds would give veterans’ care outside of the VA health system another $13.9 billion, which includes $1.9 billion in response to the Congressional budget approved last week (H.R. 1892 (115)).

[Also: Cerner DoD overhaul coming out in waves; VA deal means 'single system' approach]

VA Secretary David Shulkin put the Cerner deal on hold in the late fall due to interoperability concerns and contracted MITRE in January to perform an assessment. Shulkin is firm on the need for interoperability, given the need for the agency to share records, not only with the Department of Defense but with those providers in the private sector.

Congressional leaders and Cerner President Zane Burke expect the deal to be signed soon.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com