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Sep 18, 2013

Tester sets deadline for improved military health records

(U.S. SENATE) - Senator Jon Tester is supporting legislation to force the Defense Department and the VA to establish a system that shares military medical records and reduces the veterans claims backlog.

Each year, 150,000 service members transition from active duty to veteran status, but the two departments' health records remain incompatible. The inability of the Defense Dept. and the VA to easily share medical records prevents many veterans from getting the benefits and medical care they need in a timely manner - or sometimes at all.

Tester's bill requires the Defense Dept. and VA to use standardized forms for health data within six months of his measure being signed into law. It also requires the two departments to be able to exchange real-time data within one year and to provide service members with an electronic copy of their health records by June 2015.

"We've been spinning our wheels for over a decade, and it's time for some accountability to get veterans the benefits they need," said Tester, Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "My bill will let the Defense Department and VA know that the status quo is unacceptable. We need a medical records system that meets the needs of our military men and women in the 21st Century."

Tester said a modern health record system would also ensure service members with mental health care issues experience a more seamless transition to the VA and cut into the veterans' claims backlog. Tester pushed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on the backlog earlier this year.

The Defense Dept. and VA worked for years to develop a shared records system, but have abandoned those plans and say they are now looking at commercially available software.

Tester's bill, the Servicemembers' Electronic Health Records Act, will be considered by the Veterans' Affairs Committee. It joins other Tester legislation to help Montana's and the nation's veterans, including his Rural Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act that will strengthen VA mental health and telemedicine initiatives.

Tester's Servicemembers' Electronic Health Records Act by les_braswell5524

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Glendive, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Glendive

122 W Towne
Glendive, MT 59330
Phone: (406) 365-2391
Fax: (406) 365-8836

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

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Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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