Rep. Corrine Brown
Thank you, Messrs. Chairmen and Messrs. Ranking Members, for calling this hearing today.
I believe it is our duty as Americans to provide proper care for our veterans and servicemen who have unselfishly put their lives on the line for our wellbeing. This starts with healthcare. Time has shown that we, as Members of Congress, and Senior Leadership of the Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs’ have not been able to provide timely compensation for the work our servicemen and women did to defend this nation from all enemies. While the VA has made incredible progress with its initiative to resolve all claims older than two years and now one year, there are still too many claims not being resolved in a timely manner.
Secretary Hagel has stated that with the majority of claims being made for those veterans who served previous to Iraq and Afghanistan both the DoD and VA need to:
• Certify service treatment records so that claims processors know not to hold up processing to request additional records.
• Hold data-sharing summits every six weeks to look for ways to improve DOD and VA practices.
• Conduct separation health assessments to establish baseline medical conditions, which will speed future disability benefits claims.
• Improve the format of DOD service treatment records so that they are portable and can be quickly scanned by other users.
I am concerned that while talking about pursuing these goals, the DoD is not fully behind the plan. Earlier this year, the DoD pulled out of joint program with the VA to develop one computer system that would be able to be used by both departments.
Just the other day, there was an article in the Washington Post regarding a company that created a back-end computer program to have 6 separate accounting programs be able to talk to each other. It cannot be that difficult to do what you each propose.
Both the DOD and VA have a full understanding of what needs to be done to fix this issue with the integrated electronic health record program (iEHR), but, efforts to progressively move this program forward have proven diligently slow. You must put forth a greater effort to ensure that these veterans are awarded their benefits in a timely manner and their healthcare is seamless. I am resolute in my commitment to ensure the DOD and VA work toward their shared goal of achieving full interoperability of health care records. It is imperative that the DOD and VA make progressive moves together to ensure an effective system is ran between both agencies that will produce consistent service for our current servicemen and veterans.