Walden bill to improve care for Oregon veterans becomes law

June 6, 2018
Press Release

Walden bill to improve care for Oregon veterans becomes law

President signs Walden’s VA Medical Scribe Pilot Act, which will improve timeliness of care at VA facilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  Legislation introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) to improve care for Oregon veterans was signed into law today.  President Trump today signed the VA MISSION Act, a legislative package that 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. 

“This legislation will help improve the care for veterans all across Oregon and America because it frees up doctors to do what they do best: take care of patients,” said Walden. “One thing I’ve learned traveling throughout Oregon and talking to veterans and VA officials is that there aren’t enough providers in the VA system to take timely care of our veterans. Research in the private sector has shown that allowing scribes to handle electronic health records allows the doctor to see more patients in a timely manner, and this bill will help bring that success to our veterans at the VA. I applaud President Trump for signing this commonsense plan into law, and look forward to working alongside the Administration to ensure the successful implementation of this program on the ground in Oregon and across the country.”

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.

Charles Schmidt, Oregon’s first National Commander of The American Legion, said of Walden’s legislation after its passage in June of 2017, “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."

Additionally, Walden has heard from leadership at the VA in White City and Bend that implementing a scribes program within the VA system would improve the care Oregon’s veterans receive. 

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. The VA MISSION Act was supported by veterans service organizations across the country.

In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in May, Walden touted his plan as an important step forward in providing veterans with the quality care they deserve. To read more about Walden’s legislation, please click here.