Sen. Cruz: The Time for VA Reform Cannot Wait Any Longer, We Must Deliver on the Promise Our Nation Has Made to Provide the Care Our Veterans Deserve
Introduces VA Information Technology Restructuring Act to ensure veterans receive quality health care; cosponsored by Sens. Cornyn, Rubio, Young
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced the VA Information Technology Restructuring Act to modernize the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) IT infrastructure in a manner that will better equip it to ensure our veterans receive the utmost quality health care. The bill establishes that a Chief Information Officer (CIO) be appointed to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to modernize outdated software, and provide necessary oversight regarding the procurement, acquisition and management of the VHA's IT systems. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are original cosponsors of the bill.
"Modernizing the VA's IT infrastructure is a critical step to improving the agency's delivery of health care and remedying the long wait times that have compromised the health and safety of veterans who have honorably served our nation," Sen. Cruz said. "The time for VA reform cannot wait any longer. We must deliver on the promise our nation has made to the men and women who have so bravely defended our nation, and provide the care that they deserve. I am proud to sponsor this common-sense legislation which I believe will be instrumental in solving VA mismanagement and drastically improving its ability to address the health needs of our nation's heroes."
Currently, there is no experienced senior health care leader at the VHA with sole focus on IT infrastructure, which hampers the VHA from both meeting its own management needs, and the health needs of the service members it treats. A 2016 report from the Commission on Care (CoC) determined that it was critical for the VHA to have a CIO with expansive healthcare expertise, equipped to implement and manage a state-of-the-art IT system fully integrated with VHA clinics and medical centers. The establishment of a CIO, as provided in this legislation, will provide the foundation and continuity to ensure that veterans receive the care they have been promised, driven by proper oversight, management, and best practices.
"Texas veterans deserve a VA that works efficiently to deliver services and care," Sen. Cornyn said. "Installing a CIO at the VA can go a long way towards finally modernizing and updating their IT systems to improve wait times, record security, and accessibility."
"As we work to bring the VA into the 21st century and get our veterans the efficient, quality health care they deserve, it's important for the department to have a chief information officer to oversee the modernization of the care and health records systems," Sen. Rubio said. "I'll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure our men and women in uniform have access to the state-of-the-art health care system they deserve."
"The current system is not getting the job done, and in some cases preventing our Veterans from receiving the care they were promised and deserve," Sen. Young said. "The missing medical equipment scandal at the Roudebush VA center in Indianapolis and the ongoing problems with implementation of the VA's $543 million real-time locating systems demonstrate the desperate need for reform of information technology systems and procedures at the VA. By creating the position of Chief Information Officer, this bill promises to improve accountability at the VA and supports Secretary Shulkin's reform efforts. I am glad to work with Sen. Cruz on this important effort."
Sen. Cruz has long led efforts to remedy VA mismanagement and improve veterans' access to quality health care:
• In May 2017, he cosponsored the Veterans' Health Care Integrity Act by Sens. Cornyn and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to ensure the VA complies with its own veteran health care appointment scheduling policies in order to ensure access to timely care.
• In March 2016, Sen. Cruz, joined by Sen. Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott, sent a letter to Secretary McDonald calling on him to address the improper scheduling practices and extended wait times for veterans seeking health care across the entire State of Texas.
• In October 2015, Sen. Cruz, along with Sen. Cornyn, pressed then-VA Secretary Robert McDonald to address the long wait times for veterans seeking health care in San Antonio.
Full text of Sen. Cruz's VA Information Technology Restructuring Act may be viewed here.
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