Democrats flexed the true might of their majority in the House on Thursday when they voted to give illegal immigrants living in the United States an electronic medical records system that is better than the one currently being used at the Veterans Affairs Administration or the Department of Defense.
“House passes bill to give illegal immigrants e-medical records years ahead of veterans,” American Military News reports.
The House passed the bill, H.R. 3525, U.S. Border Patrol Medical Screening Standards Act, on a vote of 230-184. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol officials to implement an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, and store and report electronic health records to Congress for all migrants apprehended at the border, according to The Hill.
Just ahead of the vote, the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Congresswoman Lauren Underwood said “overworked Border Patrol officials” were unable to adequately record and transfer an illegal immigrants healthcare information.
“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,” Underwood said on the House floor.
In a press release following the vote, North Carolina Republican Mark Walker suggested the bill’s passage was unfair to veterans and members of the military as their healthcare record systems were similarly needing improvements.
“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,” Walker said.
“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 in a month for those who knowingly enter our country illegally,” Republican Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. said in his own press release. “We should not treat anyone, particularly someone who breaks our laws, better than we treat our heroes.”
A vote to fast-track the new system’s implementation for the VA and DoD was reportedly introduced by House Republicans but was voted down by the Democratic-majority.
From American Military News:
House Republicans proposed an amendment to implement the same rollout of medical records system standards for veterans, but the effort was struck down, according to Rep. Tim Burchett.
Critics also decried the lack of new funding in the bill, which could leave the Border Patrol to bear the costs of the new medical screening procedures out of their existing budget.
“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,” Rep. Walker said.
Two Republican congressmen supported the U.S. Border Patrol Medical Screening Standards Act, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.