House takes up scheduling, prescription drug data sharing in two VA bills

The Congressional Budget Office says the two bills will cost less than $1 million combined over the next 5 years.
By Bill Siwicki
12:44 PM

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives is slated to consider a number of bills concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs, including two with healthcare information technology implications.

The VA Scheduling Accountability Act requires that VA facilities certify compliance with scheduling rules. The health IT implications here concern scheduling systems, which is a significant consideration since the VA has been sharply criticized in the past for long wait times for veterans to see caregivers.

[Also: VA finally gets transparent on veteran wait times, clinical care quality]

“H.R. 467 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that the director of each medical facility of the department certify annually that the facility is in full compliance with the laws and regulations pertaining to scheduling medical appointments,” the Congressional Budget Office said. “In addition, the bill would require VA to ensure that directives and policies are being implemented in a uniform manner across the department. To accomplish that requirement, CBO expects VA would distribute regular guidance through electronic correspondence.”

The CBO estimates implementing H.R. 467 would cost less than $500,000 over the 2018-2022 period.

The VA Prescription Data Accountability Act 2017 requires prescription drug information be shared with prescription drug monitoring programs. The health IT implications here revolve around information systems capable of sharing medication information.

“H.R. 1545 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to disclose to state programs that monitor prescription drugs certain information about all people who receive prescriptions from VA,” the CBO said. “Under current law, VA is required to disclose such information only for veterans or their dependents who are prescribed medication through VA. H.R. 1545 would expand that group to include anyone who is prescribed medication through VA, including descendants of veterans, staff at VA, and individuals receiving disaster relief.”

The CBO estimates implementing the bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2018-2022 period.

The bills were part of a group of 11 bills approved last Wednesday by the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

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