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Senate Republicans Introduce VA EHRM Standardization, Accountability Act

The VA EHRM Standardization and Accountability Act would create a rigorous list of requirements the agency must meet before further implementation.

Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have introduced legislation that would prevent the continued implementation of the Oracle Cerner EHR at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities until VA and Oracle Cerner make major system improvements.

“Veterans seeking help at VA medical centers should receive nothing but exemplary care,” Senator Moran said in a press release. “Testimonies from VA staff and veterans as well as numerous troubling IG reports have made it clear that the EHR system is putting veteran patients at risk and creating significant challenges for VA staff.”

Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Steve Daines (R-MT) joined Cassidy and Moran in introducing the legislation.

Since 2020, VA has implemented the EHR at five medical centers. The EHR 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 EHR has also contributed to decreased employee morale.

The VA EHRM Standardization and Accountability Act would create a rigorous list of requirements the agency must meet before deploying the EHR at more VA medical centers.

“I support Secretary McDonough’s decision to delay the rollout of the EHR system, and this legislation will create a list of requirements VA, in collaboration with its vendor Oracle Cerner, must meet before implementation of the system can resume,” Moran added. “Without these changes, it would be irresponsible to continue implementing the system at additional VA centers.”

After the VA OIG released a report in July highlighting major concerns with the new system, VA paused further implementation of the EHR. The agency later extended the pause until June of 2023.

Medical centers using the EHR system are in Spokane, WA; Walla Walla, WA; Columbus, OH; White City, OR; and Roseburg, OR.

Senate Democrats also plan to introduce legislation requiring VA to implement EHRM reforms. Their bill would restructure, enhance, and strengthen the EHRM program while mandating aggressive reporting to Congress to increase oversight, accountability, and transparency following a series of challenges with the system and program.

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