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Commission to find top Health Officials Launched by Veterans Affair

This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs formed a commission to recommend a new undersecretary for the Veterans Health Administration. The VHA would be led and managed by the individual in question, a presidential appointee who the Senate must confirm. One of the responsibilities of the post would be to assist in the management of the organization’s troubled electronic health records upgrading project. According to the Air Force Times, the commission will convene for the second time this year.

The last time the agency had a Senate-confirmed undersecretary for health was several years ago. “We received information that there may have been some irregularities in the consideration of the previous slate of candidates and decided in an abundance of caution to start anew,” said Terrence Hayes, VA press secretary, in an email. Dr. David Shulkin, who was chosen by President Barack Obama in 2015 and took over as head of the VA on January 11, 2017, was the most recent person to occupy the role.

In 2018, Dr. Richard Stone was appointed to manage the VA’s health operations temporarily. Still, he resigned earlier this year when the White House informed him that he was no longer being considered for the permanent position. Dr. Steven Lieber is the acting undersecretary at the moment. It’s unclear whether he’s on the shortlist of candidates for consideration. According to the agency’s news release, candidates must have extensive experience in connection with VHA or similar initiatives.

The VHA is the country’s most extensive integrated health system, with over 1,200 facilities of service and a $61 billion annual budget. Every year, it serves 9 million enrolled Veterans. However, the VA and its leadership have been criticized for their Cerner EHR modernization effort over the last year, which has run into numerous roadblocks.

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