Committee Leaders Introduce EHR Oversight Legislation
Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-Minn.), along with Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Annie Kuster (D-NH), introduced legislation to strengthen Congress’ oversight of VA’s implementation of its new electronic health records system.
“As chairman and a physician, I know firsthand the value an effective electronic health records system plays in providing patients with quality health care,” said Chairman Roe. “The transition to the Cerner system aims to achieve seamless interoperability with the Department of Defense, which has been one of my priorities since coming to Congress, and will be one of the largest projects the department has been tasked with implementing. I’m proud to partner with Ranking Member Walz, as well as Reps. Bergman and Kuster, on this essential legislation that will give Congress additional tools to carry out effective oversight of this challenging undertaking.”
“For far too long, servicemembers transitioning from DoD to VA healthcare have been unable to take their electronic health records with them,” said Ranking Member Walz. “That is why I applauded Secretary Shulkin when he announced that VA would soon adopt the same electronic health record as DoD. While Secretary Shulkin’s announcement was a welcome one, it is now incredibly important to make sure the modernization process is as seamless as possible. Whether it is preventing disruptions in patient care, protecting the privacy of veterans, or ensuring American taxpayer dollars are invested responsibly and in a way that will improve healthcare delivery for veterans, this bill will ensure that Congress has the authority it needs to oversee the process and hold VA accountable every step of the way. I would like to thank my colleagues Chairman Roe, as well as Representatives Kuster and Bergman, for working together to see this bipartisan legislation is passed without delay.”
“It is well known that large IT modernization projects, particularly those in the government, often encounter significant problems,” said O&I Chairman Bergman. “It’s also no secret that VA has a poor track record of keeping Congress informed regarding its modernization efforts. While it appears the VA has made strides to improve the flow of information, complete transparency is essential for the modernization of its electronic health record. This legislation ensures Congress has access to key implementation documents within the VA to enable the rigorous oversight required by all who are served by the VA.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs’ outdated electronic health records (EHR) system has posed a persistent challenge to efforts to improve care for veterans,” said O&I Ranking Member Kuster. “I’m pleased that VA has decided to move forward with modernization of their records system so that VA’s EHR system will be able to operate seamlessly with healthcare facilities outside of the VA network. This legislation will ensure that this process is undertaken with the transparency and accountability necessary. I’m pleased the VA Committee is committed to working with VA in a bipartisan manner to address this issue on behalf of our men and women who have served in uniform.”
The Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act of 2017 directs VA to provide Congress with its key planning and implementation documents for the electronic health records replacement project, in addition to copies of the contracts, to indicate the effort’s progress and how the money is being spent. The legislation also requires VA to notify Congress quickly in the event of any significant cost increase, schedule delay, loss of veteran health data or breach of privacy. Read more information here.