Congress has authorized about $233 million for an ongoing effort to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs’ electronic health record system, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 1/4).
Last month, President Obama signed a two-part spending package that consists of:
- A $1.1 trillion omnibus budget measure to fund federal agencies through fiscal year 2016; and
- A $650 billion tax package that renews for the next 10 years various tax breaks that had ended or were about to expire.
VA’s EHR upgrade effort — called the VistA Evolution program — calls for the department to replace its Computerized Patient Record System, the existing interface used by clinicians, with a set of modular-based components called an Enterprise Health Management Platform. Among other things, the new platform will allow VA to meet many of the 2014 Edition meaningful use certification criteria for health IT.
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
According to Health Data Management, use of the funding is restricted until VA shows improvements in the system’s interoperability with:
- The Department of Defense;
- The private sector; and
- VA facilities (Health Data Management, 1/4).
Under the spending measure, VA must submit IT project spending plans to both the House and Senate appropriations committees. VA also must request a funding transfer from those committees if a project’s cost increases or decreases by more than $1 million.
In addition, the law prohibits VA from spending or obligating more than 25% of the funding until it provides both committees with project details, such as:
- A timeline for scheduled milestones, and
- The scope and functionality of projects within the VistA Evolution program (Health Data Management, 1/4).