A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation today to authorize collaborative research between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Department of Energy Veterans’ Health Initiative Act (H.R. 617) authorizes an innovative program that combines DOE’s vast computing capabilities with the VA’s data to improve veterans’ healthcare.
Currently, DOE and the VA collaborate through the “Million Veterans Program–Computational Health Analytics for Medical Precision to Improve Outcomes Now,” or MVP-CHAMPION program. This legislation authorizes the continuation of this program and authorizes a two-year, $52 million DOE cross-cutting pilot program to advance research in artificial intelligence, data analytics, and computational research.
The partnership gives the VA secure, high-performance data analysis to better understand diseases and improve veterans’ overall quality of life. In accessing the VA’s extensive data, DOE will enhance its ability to analyze and interpret big data—developing tools which can then be applied to meet nuclear security, energy, and scientific challenges.
H.R. 617 was introduced by Rep Ralph Norman (R-SC), based on language originally introduced in the previous Congress and passed by the House of Representatives. It is cosponsored by Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Companion legislation, S.143, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) along with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
Ranking Member Lucas:
“America’s veterans deserve the best care we can provide. This innovative collaboration between the VA and DOE improves our ability to serve veterans through cutting-edge computing facilities and complex data analysis. The Department of Energy Veterans’ Health Initiative Act leverages our resources in a way that better serves our veterans while advancing our technological capabilities. I applaud Rep. Norman for his leadership on this important partnership.”
Rep. Ralph Norman:
“Today, I am proud to re-introduce the Department of Energy Veterans’ Health Initiative Act. This bipartisan legislation unanimously passed the House in the 115th Congress and I am hopeful that we will be able to send it to the President’s desk for his signature this Congress. Our veterans deserve the best care possible, and the DOE Veterans’ Health Initiative is just one way we can work to ensure we are doing everything for those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Rep. Dan Lipinski:
“The health records generated from decades of care for tens of millions of veterans provide a trove of information that may lead to more accurate diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions and diseases. High-performance computing can help analyze this massive amount of data to make it useful for delivering better healthcare outcomes not only for veterans but also for the general population. The DOE VA Health Initiative Act is one way our federal science agencies can give back to those who have already sacrificed so much for our nation and I’m proud to support it.”
Sen. Joni Ernst
“Our veterans and their families deserve the best care and treatment possible. When our government agencies work more efficiently and in better partnership with one another, our veterans benefit. This bipartisan legislation will help foster closer cooperation between agencies and improve care for our veterans.”