VA proposes CARE Act to address health IT problems

The bill - written by the VA and proposed to Congress - would expand care access for veterans and make it legally easier to share patient records between the VA and outside providers.
By Jessica Davis
01:32 PM
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VA proposes CARE Act

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a bill, which it presented to both the House and Senate, designed to address healthcare access and improve the veteran experience.

The Veterans Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences Act would create the framework to support the agency in continuing to build a high-performing network. Further, it would make it easier to share patient records between the VA and outside providers.

In addition, the proposal would bolster the VA’s Choice Program by replacing the current wait-time and distance eligibility criteria, by eliminating the 30-day, 40-mile limit currently in place for the Choice program. It would also offer patients a network of walk-in clinics for minor health issues.

The bill would establish care coordination support, merge and modernize community care programs and streamline clinical and administrative processes.

Further, it proposes new workforce tools to assist the agency’s medical staff. And also features provisions to strengthen the VA’s partnerships with other government agencies, while improving financial management of its Community Care Program.

“We want Veterans to work with their VA physicians to make informed decisions that are best for their clinical needs, whether in the VA or in the community,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD said in a statement. “This bill does just that while strengthening VA services at the same time.”

The proposed bill is just the recent initiative introduced by Shulkin to improve the agency’s IT and healthcare systems.

In August, Shulkin and the President launched “anywhere-to-anywhere” telehealth plans to expand care access. The secretary announced it would replace its outdated VistA EHR with Cerner to modernize its system and make it easier to share data with the Department of Defense.

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