WASHINGTON – Today the House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 6398, the Department of Energy Veterans’ Health Initiative Act.

The bill, introduced by Environment Subcommittee Vice Chairman Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), authorizes collaborative research between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to solve complex, big data challenges focused on veterans’ health care and basic science. 

The DOE and VA are currently collaborating on the “Million Veterans Program–Computational Health Analytics for Medical Precision to Improve Outcomes Now,” also known as MVP-CHAMPION. Through this initiative, the VA collects health care data from veterans who have volunteered to participate and transfers it to DOE, where it is stored and analyzed in a secure site. This partnership and exchange of data benefits both DOE and the VA and can improve healthcare services to our veterans.

H.R. 6398 statutorily authorizes the continuation of the MVP-CHAMPION program, and supports the vital collaborative research being done between the DOE and VA to understand various diseases and improve veterans’ quality of life. Rep. Norman’s legislations also authorizes a two-year DOE pilot program to advance research in artificial intelligence, data analytics, and computational research. The pilot program will further enhance DOE’s computing capabilities to meet nuclear science, energy, and security mission goals of the department.

Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry:

“The Department of Energy is home to six of the ten fastest supercomputers in the world. The Department of Veterans Affairs possesses the world’s richest medical data set. This legislation enables DOE and the VA to join forces to analyze and better understand veteran-related illnesses. I commend the House of Representatives for passing this important legislation. We all should have no higher priority than to provide the bravest among us with the best medical research the world has to offer."

Chairman Smith:

“This legislation enables both the important work and resources of the DOE and VA to improve the quality of healthcare for our deserving veterans. By gaining access to the VA’s extensive genomic and health care database, the DOE is able to leverage its world leading supercomputers to develop next generation computing, algorithms and modeling capabilities to solve critical health challenges. This interagency partnership will help researchers gain fundamental knowledge on big data analytics, while allowing others to benefit from the Department’s growing expertise. I thank Rep. Norman for his hard work on this important piece of legislation.”

Rep. Ralph Norman:

“Our veterans should have access to better health care services and our scientist should remain on the cutting edge of big data analytics and advanced computing. This legislation will allow the Department of Energy and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work together, to improve the medical care of our veterans. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our nation, and they deserve the best care possible. I am proud to sponsor legislation that will not only work to ensure our veterans receive the best care they need, but also ensures our nation remains a leader in innovation and technological advancement.”

The full text of the bill is available here.