House Republicans Put Veterans’ and VA Employees’ Best Interests First in New Bill to Fix EHR System
Washington, January 31, 2023 | Kathleen McCarthy
Today, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statement after he led lawmakers in introducing H.R. 592, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act, a bill to fix VA’s handling of the Oracle Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system and ultimately ensure that VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) are well-equipped to implement and use the new system, without hindering the delivery of care to veterans and hurting VA provider productivity levels:
H.R. 592, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act, is cosponsored by 9 Members of Congress, including: Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chairman Rep. Matt Rosendale (MT-02), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Rep. Mike Carey (OH-15), Rep. Troy Balderson (OH-12), Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-02), Rep. Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03), and Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-09). Many of these Members represent veterans and VA employees who are struggling with the EHR system.
“I have traveled across the country and seen and heard firsthand the impact the Oracle Cerner product has had on VA providers and veterans. It has crippled the delivery of care, put veteran patient safety at risk, and stressed an already overwhelmed healthcare system,” said Chairman Bost. “While I commend the Secretary for pausing deployment of the new EHR at future sites, I am not confident that will be enough. It’s simple: the Oracle Cerner system should not be implemented at any more VA sites until the VAMC leadership certifies that the medical center is ready. That’s exactly what our bill would do. I hope to get this legislation passed out of the House and signed into law as soon as possible.”
“The Oracle Cerner electronic health record is deeply flawed – causing issues for medical staff and posing patient safety risks,” said Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chairman Rep. Rosendale. “We cannot continue to further implement this inadequate system at the expense of billions of dollars in government funding. We must hold the VA to the high standard of care promised to our Veterans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
To learn more about H.R. 592, the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act, click here. Bill text can be found here.
“The goal of modernizing the VA’s health record was simple: Make sure veterans receive the best care possible at VA facilities. Five years later, it’s abundantly clear that it’s come up short,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “Veterans and providers in Eastern Washington have endured enough physical and emotional harm. Real change is long overdue and necessary to make this system the improvement we hoped it would be. I’m proud to help lead this legislation to force Oracle Cerner and VA leadership to finally take the meaningful action they’ve been avoiding.”
“The disastrous rollout of the Cerner electronic health record system put the health and safety of veterans at risk—the very same men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy each and every day. Requiring VA medical centers to certify this system will not threaten any more veterans before deploying it at other sites should be commonsense. Unfortunately, given the botched handling of the initial rollout, it is on Congress to ensure the VA fulfills its duty and maintains the highest level of care for the men and women who deserve it most. I am proud to introduce this legislation today alongside Chairman Bost, and will never stop fighting to ensure the federal government keeps its commitment to provide our veterans with the respect and care they have earned,” said Rep. Newhouse.
“The status quo is unacceptable; both our veterans and America’s taxpayers deserve better,” said Rep. Balderson. “The situation with the existing electronic health records system is unsustainable and must be remedied before further expansion of this program is allowed.”
“Providing adequate access to healthcare and resources for our veterans is absolutely essential. I am deeply concerned about the rollout of the new EHR system and remain committed to working with VA, hospital and provider staff, and veterans themselves to ensure this right for veterans in Idaho and across our nation,” said Rep. Simpson. “This bill is an important step in ensuring the EHR is safe and effective before it is implemented at another VA facility. Our veterans deserve the best treatment available on behalf of their sacrifice and service to our country and I am eager for the bill’s timely consideration on the House floor.”
Chairman Bost and Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chairman Rep. Matt Rosendale (MT-02) also introduced legislation that would end the Oracle Cerner electronic health record program at VA if it cannot demonstrate significant improvement but is nonetheless introduced to additional medical centers. H.R. 608 would prevent tens of billions of taxpayer dollars from being wasted on a failing system. To learn more about this legislation, H.R. 608, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Modernization Termination Act, click here. Bill text can be found here.