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Leahy’s Appropriations Work Provides $792,000 To Improve Electronic Medical Records At The Vermont Veterans’ Home In Bennington

April 19, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, April 19, 2018) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), joined by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.), announced a $792,000 grant to bring the medical records system at the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington into the 21st century.  The grant meets a longstanding priority of the Bennington facility and was made possible by new funding for veterans in the bipartisan budget agreement reached by Congress in February.  Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, played a leading role in those negotiations.

Leahy said:  “It was one of our highest priorities in the bipartisan budget agreement to improve the quality of care available to our nation’s veterans.  This goal is now becoming a reality at the Vermont Veteran’s Home and for our Green Mountain veterans.”

Sanders said:  “At a time when some members of Congress and the administration want to divert funds from the VA to the private sector, it is absolutely critical that we secure important funding like this to make VA facilities stronger.  As the former chair and longtime member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am proud to have fought for this funding, which will ensure the Vermont Veterans Home is best positioned to meet the health care needs of the veterans who live there.”

Welch said:  “Vermont’s veterans have made great sacrifices in service of our country.  It is our obligation to ensure they have high quality health care.  This grant will help the Vermont Veterans’ Home modernize its records system so that residents receive the quality care they deserve. I was pleased to support it  in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill.”

The Vermont Veterans’ Home will use the Veterans Affairs grant to upgrade the facility with new equipment that will allow staff to directly upload vital sign information, like blood pressure and glucose levels, into a veteran’s medical record.  Currently, staff at the Vermont Veterans Home have to write down this information by hand and then enter it into the record system later.  State Veterans’ Homes, like Vermont’s facility in Bennington, provide care for veterans and are owned, operated and managed by state governments.

Vermont Veterans’ Home Chief Executive Officer Melissa A. Jackson said:  “We are very excited to be able to continue to improve the high quality care and services we provide to the Veterans residing at the Vermont Veterans’ Home.  This grant funding will help to improve our electronic medical record system, reduce duplicative work by the facility staff and increase accuracy in our documentation.  I would like to thank Senator Leahy for his efforts in securing this funding for the home.”

In his proposed budget for this fiscal year, President Trump requested $90 million for State Veterans’ Homes.  In negotiations led by Leahy, the bipartisan budget agreement reached in February, and the Omnibus Appropriations Act signed into law in March, significantly increased funding for State Veterans’ Homes to $658 million, allowing the VA to begin to address a significant backlog in repairs, renovation and new construction in the program.

President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget would cut this new funding back to $150 million.  Leahy and the Appropriations Committee are now in the midst of writing the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills, in which he says veterans’ medical care will continue to be a high priority. 

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