Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

House passes Greg Walden bill to improve care for Oregon veterans

May 17, 2018
Press Release

House passes Greg Walden bill to improve care for Oregon veterans

  Legislation will help increase the timeliness of care for veterans

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s speech on the House floor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A plan introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) to improve the care Oregon veterans receive at the Veterans Administration (VA) is one step closer to being sent to the President’s desk. Today the House passed the VA MISSION Act (S. 2372) by a bipartisan vote of 347-70. This legislative package includes the VA Medical Scribe Pilot Act, a bill co-authored by Walden to help unburden VA doctors by bringing medical scribes into the VA system, which will allow them to see more patients in a timely manner. 

“Research in the private sector has shown that allowing scribes to handle electronic health records allows the doctor to do what they do best: treat their patients,” said Walden in a speech on the House floor today. “Chairman Roe joined me in my district last fall on a tour of the VA Clinic in White City, Oregon, where we heard first-hand about the administrative challenges VA doctors face and how that affects their ability to care for veterans. This bill will help.”

Medical scribes help relieve physicians of administrative burdens such as paperwork and record keeping, which helps doctors focus their attention on caring for patients. Studies have shown that the use of medical scribes in the private sector resulted in a 59% increase in the number of patients physicians see per hour.

Walden has heard from officials at both the White City and Bend VA facilities, and veterans themselves, that implementing a scribes program will help improve the care Oregon veterans receive. Walden’s legislation will also help retain quality VA doctors, and recruit new physicians into the VA process. 

The VA Medical Scribe Pilot Act originally unanimously passed the House of Representatives in June of 2017 before being approved by the Senate.

Charles Schmidt, Oregon’s first National Commander of The American Legion, said of Walden’s legislation after its passage in June, “the VA Medical Scribes Pilot Act of 2017 would greatly assist VA doctors in the course of their duties by providing medical scribes to alleviate their administrative burden.  This would enable VA doctors to see more veterans per day and spend more time with each patient.  Providing doctors medical scribes would help the VA improve the work environment, reduce physician burnout, and recruit and retain quality physicians."

The VA MISSION Act also expands the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to pre-9/11 veterans who suffered a serious injury in the line of duty, creates a permanent path to increase veterans' access to see doctors in the community and reduce wait times, and provides funding for the Veterans Choice Program (Choice). Walden has been a longtime supporter of Choice, working to improve the program that provides veterans with needed flexibility when seeking care. 

After receiving approval in the House today, the VA MISSION Act now heads to the Senate for final approval before being sent to the President’s desk. To read more about Walden’s legislation, please click here.