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Walden bill aims to boost veterans' VA medical care

Proposes pilot program for medical scribes

WASHINGTON - Continuing his efforts to improve the care Oregon’s veterans receive at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said Tuesday he's introduced legislation to unburden VA doctors and allow them to see more patients.

Walden’s legislation would implement a pilot program for medical scribes at VA facilities, which will help ease administrative burdens that are preventing physicians from devoting their full attention to veterans.

“The legislation we’ve introduced is really going to be important for our veterans all across Oregon and America, because it frees up doctors to do what they do best: take care of patients,” said Walden. “Our plan will set up a pilot program to bring scribes in to do paperwork and record-keeping in the VA process.

"One thing we’ve learned is that there aren’t enough providers in the VA process to take timely care of our veterans. This legislation should free up the providers we have to actually see the patients and take care of them with their medical needs, and allow others to do the paperwork. I think it makes a lot of sense for our veterans and for the VA, and I look forward to seeing this legislation moving through the Veterans Affairs Committee.”

Charles Schmidt, Oregon’s first National Commander of The American Legion, said of Walden’s legislation, “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 American Legion wholeheartedly supports this proposed legislation as currently written."

Additionally, Walden said he has heard from leadership at the VA in White City and Bend that implementing a scribes program within the VA system is paramount to improving the care Oregon’s veterans receive. 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. The bill is also intended to better recruit and retain talented physicians to serve at VA health centers.

Walden was joined by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) in introducing this legislation.


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