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Obama's budget plan gives key VA health IT projects $893 million


By Joseph Conn
Posted: March 5, 2014 - 2:00 pm ET
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Three key health information technology projects at the Veterans Affairs Department will receive $893 million under the proposed federal budget President Barack Obama submitted Tuesday.

The request includes $567 million, up $23 million from actual spending in 2014, for the telehealth programs operated by the VA's Veterans Health Administration, including home health monitoring and extending care to veterans in remote locations. The VA provided home health monitoring devices and services in fiscal 2013 to more than 144,000 high-risk veterans with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, weight management, substance-abuse disorder and spinal cord injuries.

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The VA also plans to spend $269 million in 2015 on VistA Evolution, a multiyear project to upgrade its VistA electronic health record system used in the VA's 151 hospitals and its 827 community-based outpatient clinics.

The budget proposal also calls for $57 million for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record project. Early in his first term, Obama called for the creation of a joint VLER to address decades-long problems with exchanging medical records between the VA and the Military Health System.

The VA healthcare system has 9.3 million registered beneficiaries, of which more than 6.4 million received treatment through VA healthcare providers or benefits programs in fiscal 2013.

The VA expects to serve 6.7 million veterans and other beneficiaries in 2014. The VA's overall budget request is for $163.9 billion, of which $59.1 billion is for healthcare.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn


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