Rogers: House Democrats Putting Illegal Immigrants In Front of Service Members, Vets
H.R. 3525 Would Mandate Electronic Health Record System for Migrants, Ahead of VA, DoD, Coast Guard Systems

[CLICK HERE to Watch Rogers Urge Colleagues to Vote Against H.R. 3525]

WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, today pushed back against H.R. 3525, which requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish an electronic health record system for all illegal immigrants within its custody within 90 days.

“The bill before us today requires the Department of Homeland Security to set up an interoperable electronic health records system to track the medical history of millions of illegal immigrants,” Rogers said on the House floor. “The bill requires the system to be up and running in 90 days.  Implementing an electronic health record system is a complicated, labor intensive undertaking…If you need a real-world example of just how unachievable this is, look no further than the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard spent seven years trying to get an interoperable electronic health system in place for its 50,000 servicemembers. But after all that time, the system didn’t work. Coast Guard servicemembers are still forced to rely on paper medical records…The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration won’t have fully interoperable EHR systems in place for another five and nine years respectively.”

Rogers full remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Yesterday, the majority passed a partisan messaging bill to provide illegal immigrants with an additional complaint line at the Department of Homeland Security. It has no chance of becoming law.

Today, they’re back at it with another partisan messaging bill that will never become law.  This time it’s a bill to provide illegal immigrants with electronic health records.

The bill before us today requires the Department of Homeland Security to set up an interoperable electronic health records system to track the medical history of millions of illegal immigrants. The bill requires the system to be up and running in 90 days.  Implementing an electronic health record system is a complicated, labor intensive undertaking.

They begin with a configuration process to tailor the commercial software to the client’s needs.  Then proceed to a site-by-site installation process, followed by workforce training. It typically takes a year or more to get new electronic health record up and running at a hospital with one location. 

Making these systems interoperable across government agencies only creates more complexity, extending implementation by years.

If you need a real-world example of just how unachievable this is, look no further than the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard spent seven years trying to get an interoperable electronic health system in place for its 50,000 servicemembers. But after all that time, the system didn’t work.  Coast Guard servicemembers are still forced to rely on paper medical records.

The Coast Guard is not alone.  The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration won’t have fully interoperable EHR systems in place or another five and nine years respectively.

H.R. 3525 also requires DHS to research innovative ways to conduct medical screenings on illegal immigrants. DHS conducts thousands of medical screenings on migrants on a daily basis. Finding new ways to deliver health screenings more efficiently could save time and money, but researching innovations in health care delivery is NOT the mission of DHS. 

The research mandated by this bill is the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services. DHS research is properly focused on preventing drugs, criminals, and terrorists from entering our country.  We should not force DHS to lose its focus on these critical homeland security priorities. 

Finally, the bill before us today fails to provide DHS with any funding to achieve the illegal immigrant medical screening research and interoperable electronic health records mandates. We have no idea how much H.R. 3525 will cost because the majority filed the bill without a CBO cost estimate. 

However, we do know from the experience at the VA, DoD, and Coast Guard that interoperable electronic health systems are extremely expensive undertakings.  The VA and DoD are on track to spend over $25 billion on their systems. 

The Coast Guard’s failed system to track just 50,000 servicemembers cost $67 million.  Using the Coast Guard as a baseline, it would cost over $2.5 billion to track the medical history of the illegal immigrants that entered our country just since fiscal year 2017.

In other words, without any funding provided for the mandates in this bill, billions in critical DHS funds used to counter terrorist plots, equip first responders, and respond to natural disasters would have to be diverted away to benefit millions of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Speaker, what is truly disappointing about the bills we’ve considered the last two days is that they do nothing to prevent another humanitarian crisis at our southwest border. We should be working together on legislation that reforms our broken immigration system, protects vulnerable families and children from human smugglers, reduces the asylum backlog, and expands migrant processing and long-term housing. 

When this partisan messaging bill fails to move in the Senate, I hope Democrats will finally choose policy over politics and agree to work with Republicans on solutions to our border security problems.

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