House Democrats voted Thursday to fast-track an electronic medical records system that would serve illegal immigrants, something America’s veterans have been seeking for years.
Only two Republican congressmen supported the bill — Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.
The proposal has yet to be considered by the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Democratic proposal would require the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to create an Electronic Health Records system.
The bill gives the DHS 90 days after the bill receives final approval to get the job done.
In contrast, the Veterans Administration has been working for years to implement an EHR system for veterans.
Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois said it is important for Congress to ensure that workers at the border are doing their jobs.
“As DHS works to improve its medical screening of children and migrants at the border to ensure there is a minimum standard of care, the need for proper record keeping on those screenings will only increase,” she said.
Underwood said that the bill was based on her experiences touring America’s southern Border.
“When I was at the border I saw busy, overworked Border Patrol officials having to keep health records on paper. I also saw how these records don’t follow migrants between facilities and transfers of custody,” she said.
But critics wondered how adding more responsibilities to overworked Border Patrol officials would fix anything
“I oppose this bill because it is poorly conceived, erroneously drafted and extremely risky,” Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana said.
“This bill would require the Border Patrol to divert resources from its core missions and create a new medical screening for those who illegally cross and enter the country between ports of entry.”
Republican Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina said in a statement that the Democratic bill was wrong on multiple levels.
“Earlier this week, I said impeachment was the House Democrats only agenda. I was mistaken. They just passed legislation that will give illegal immigrants better health care records than our veterans and servicemembers. More and more they are making their priorities clear and it’s absolutely shameful,” he said.
Walker noted that Democrats want illegal immigrants to have electronic health records faster than they are available for veterans.
“The Veterans Administration (VA) will not have similar electronic health records systems in place for nine years and the Department of Defense (DOD) will not have those systems for another five years,” he said.
Tennessee Republican Rep. Tim Burchett said in a Twitter video that Republicans added an amendment to the Democratic bill to ensure veterans receive the same treatment as illegal immigrants under the bill.
Democrats voted down that amendment, Burchett said.
Amendment to give VETERANS same healthcare as ILLEGALS fails. Are you kidding me? We are so out of wack. pic.twitter.com/eYgqkklrMW
— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) September 26, 2019
While a modern EHR system is set to be implemented in some VA hospitals as soon as 2020, the full modernization effort, which officially began last May, was set to be rolled out over a decade, the Military Times reported.
But it gets worse, Walker said.
“Additionally, the new requirements are not funded, so DHS would be forced to take funds from other agency efforts including border security, combatting terrorism, stopping drug and human trafficking, and natural disaster response,” he said.
Republican Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee agreed.
“If we cannot deliver a modern medical record for the men and women who put their lives on the line for us sooner than that, it is impossible to think that we could or should deliver one … for those who knowingly enter our country illegally,” Roe said in a statement.
“We should not treat anyone, particularly someone who breaks our laws, better than we treat our heroes. DHS staff along the border are doing the best they can to keep up with screening illegal border crossers and this bill will make it harder for them to do their job without actually helping anyone,” he said.