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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 229-02
May 03, 2002

AGREEMENT ON FEDERAL HEALTH INFORMATION EXCHANGE ANNOUNCED

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S. C. Chu announced today an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to leverage existing agency and interagency system investments through a Federal Health Information Exchange. The exchange, previously known as the government computerized patient record, responds to the president's direction that greater sharing of resources between federal health agencies occurs. Additionally, it is consistent with congressional interest in collaborative endeavors between Defense and Veterans Affairs on information technology projects.

During today's joint meeting at the Pentagon, Chu and Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs Leo MacKay signed the memorandum of agreement establishing governance and management of this joint effort. "This exchange," said Chu, "is an exemplary model of collaboration between DoD and VA that will markedly enhance the continuity of care to our nation's veterans." To date DoD has transmitted to VA approximately 3.75 million records on retired or discharged service members.

The exchange covered by the new agreement recognizes that current health information systems in the two agencies are disparate. It is intended to enable the electronic exchange of health information among these disparate systems as well as systems operated by DoD and VA partners who provide healthcare to federal beneficiaries. The exchange includes the design, development and implementation of the standards, technical and data architectures, hardware and software required to achieve an easily accessible, yet secure health information exchange for military personnel and veterans. This exchange will be compliant with the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as well as the 1974 Privacy Act.

The VA will serve as the executive agent for this program effort that will have four levels of governance. Day to day oversight will be the responsibility of a program director working in collaboration with DoD and VA staff. Each agency is responsible for obtaining annual funding to support new efforts and to sustain and maintain in-being operations. The current expectation is that annual funding by each agency will approximate $6-7 million.

The agreement is on the Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2002/d20020503moa.pdf.

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