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Chairman Bost Levels with VA Over Electronic Health Record Debacle during Oversight Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.) delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Full Committee’s oversight hearing to assess the status and shortcomings of VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization Program:


Good morning.


The Committee will come to order.


I want to welcome our witnesses.

I also ask unanimous consent that Representatives McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse, and Schrier be able to participate in questioning.


Hearing no objection, we will proceed.


The Cerner E.H.R. went live in Spokane, Washington nearly three years ago.


It then went live at Walla Walla, Columbus, and Roseburg about two-and-a-half years ago.


But things still aren’t right in these medical centers and their clinics.


When I went to Walla Walla and Columbus last year, they were still struggling to get back to normal.


The number of appointments was still cut back.


The employees were furious, and the veterans were confused.


I understand these facilities have managed to get close to normal patient volumes by adding a whole lot more staff.


That’s more people to do the same amount of work.


But they still can’t trust the Oracle Cerner E.H.R. to be safe and accurate, so V.A. employees are being forced to double-check everything.


And those extra employees cost a lot more money.


The staffing costs, reduced collections, and higher community care costs have put some of the medical centers into a permanent budget deficit.


This is an outrageous situation.


I don’t know how anyone with a shred of judgement could call the E.H.R. a success.


But a parade of V.A. and Cerner executives repeatedly tried to tell us it was great.


I will put this politely…They tried to pee on my leg and tell me it was raining.


But the problems became overwhelming, and Secretary McDonough finally did the right thing in April and declared an indefinite pause.


This is a pause I had been calling for since 2021.


Now V.A. is in a reset, where Dr. Evans has to figure out how to fix up a broken system.


Dr. Evans, I don’t envy your task.


Your punch list is a mile long.


Not only does the E.H.R. have a lot of built-in problems, V.A. created new problems in trying to customize it.


V.A. leaders are going to have to make hard decisions they have been avoiding, and veterans’ care depends on it.


Unfortunately, the previous directors of the project wasted far too much money.


They spent over 50 percent of the budget and only completed about three percent of the rollout.


This is a deep hole to climb out of.


If you are able to pull it off, we are going to see the improvement in these medical centers.

I’m not going to accept anything less.


Under no circumstances should V.A. deploy the Oracle Cerner E.H.R. elsewhere until these facilities have been made whole.


That’s the test.


And Congress has been letting V.A. grade its own tests for too long.


We were far too hands off at the beginning of the project, when setting goals really mattered.


We need to establish clear expectations now.


I want to thank Ranking Member Takano for working with me over the last few months to refine the E.H.R. Reset legislation.


I also want to thank Senator Tester and Senator Moran for collaborating with us.


Now, our staffs are going to be working together to hammer out an agreement.


It’s simple: the project has to deliver results, or end.


It cannot be allowed to stumble along and spend money forever.

We are going to find a solution that gives veterans the level of service they have earned and does right by the V.A. staff.


That’s my commitment.


Ranking Member Takano, I now recognize you for your opening statement.

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