House Lawmakers Introduce Legislation for VA EHRM Reform

The bill would require VA to ensure it meets performance baselines at VA medical centers currently using the Oracle Cerner EHR before continuing the EHRM.

House lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that would reform the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) EHR Modernization (EHRM) program if passed into law, according to reporting from FedScoop.

Since 2020, VA has implemented a new Oracle Cerner EHR at five medical centers. The platform has faced system outages, put nearly 150 patients at risk, and more than doubled in cost. Further, system deficiencies have led to the deaths of four veterans.

The House bill would require VA to take various measures to reform the rocky EHR program. Specifically, it would establish program management within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and reorganize the management of reporting for the EHR functional champion and deputy CIO.

The legislation also seeks to restrict the selling of veterans' health data by any internal or external entity working for the VA.

The bill would require VA to ensure they meet or exceed performance baselines at the VA medical centers operating the new Oracle Cerner EHR before taking the health IT system to any additional locations.

If VA and Oracle Cerner cannot meet the requirements for the five sites within 180 days after enactment of the legislation, the bill would guide the agency to consider terminating or canceling the EHR contract.

Mike Bost (R-Ill.), House Committee on Veterans Affairs chairman, and Mark Takano, (D-Calif.) committee ranking member, introduced the proposal.  

The bill is companion legislation to the EHR Program RESET Act in the Senate sponsored by Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Senate VA committee chairman.

If passed, the bill would prevent VA from additional EHR go-lives until data from the five sites using the system "demonstrate an ability to deliver healthcare to veterans at standards that surpass metrics" using VA's legacy VistA EHR.

The RESET Act would also require VA to create a "plan B" for the Oracle Cerner EHR if the vendor doesn't agree to new contract terms that "increase accountability and penalties for poor performance."

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