Slow growth for VA IT budget in 2007

The Bush administration's fiscal 2007 budget proposal for information technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs remained stagnant despite calls for greater coordination with the Defense Department and the growth of health e-records.

The fiscal 2007 proposal calls for a slight increase – $1.9 billion from $1.84 billion in 2006. In fiscal 2005, the VA received $1.87 billion for IT.

While the VA operates the largest health care system in the United States, President Bush’s budget states the number of veterans is declining because of age.

“While the number of patients has grown in the last five years, the annual increase is now slowing down and is expected to continue to do so as the overall veteran population declines,” according to the president’s budget.

And to manage spending, Bush’s budget includes a new initiative to improve the management of the federal government’s credit portfolios. The VA is included in this initiative because it has a portfolio of $1.3 billion in outstanding direct loans.

The budget also calls for $7.6 million to replace a claims-processing system for veterans who receive care outside the VA system. Last year's budget appropriated the same amount.

In addition, it requests $19.6 million for electronic health records for veterans, a drop from $39 million appropriated for 2006.



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