House Legislators Propose $1.9B VA EHR Budget for 2024

If passed by the Senate, the bill would allocate $1.9 billion to the VA EHR modernization in fiscal year 2024, including $253 million for program management.

The House has passed appropriations legislation that would allocate $1.9 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) EHR modernization program for fiscal year 2024 if passed into law, according to reporting from FedScoop.

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill would provide $1.2 billion for the Oracle Cerner-operated EHR contract, $424 million for infrastructure readiness preparations, and $253 million for program management.

The EHR platform, which VA first launched at Spokane's Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in October 2020, has been plagued by problems, leading to more than 150 cases of patient harm and the deaths of four veterans.

Following passage by House lawmakers, the bill moves forward for consideration by Senate lawmakers after they return from recess.

According to the bill, funds allocated to the EHR for the fiscal year 2024 are contingent on VA preparing a quarterly report of obligations, costs, and the technology deployment schedule to Congress. The Office of the VA Deputy Secretary will administer the initiative.

Within 30 days of the appropriations bill's enactment, legislators request a report of each new EHR requirement and customized interface that VA added in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to establish whether they were outside the EHR contract's scope. Further, within 45 days, lawmakers want a briefing on the VA's plan to set enterprise standards, according to the bill.

Previous legislation also requires VA officials to give Congress updates on how the agency is working to optimize EHR training, support proper medication management, and use the EHR to identify veterans who may be at high risk for suicide.

In May, VA renegotiated its contract with health IT vendor Oracle Cerner for the EHR modernization project.

"VA has reached an agreement on a modified contract with Oracle Cerner to deliver the high-functioning, high-reliability, world-class electronic health record that Veterans deserve," the department said in a press release at the time of the announcement.

Officials said that the modified contract "dramatically increases VA's ability to hold Oracle Cerner accountable across a variety of key areas."

In particular, the contract aims to minimize recurrent system outages, address end-user problems more quickly, and improve how the EHR interacts with non-VA hospitals and the rest of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

The department said the contract now includes "stronger performance metrics and expectations" and larger financial consequences for Oracle if it does not meet standards in each of those areas.

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Clinical documentation

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing