EHR Intelligence: Senate Passes Legislation for VA EHRM Program Transparency, Reporting

by Hannah Nelson

The Senate has unanimously passed legislation to increase transparency surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program.

The VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021 passed the House of Representatives last November and is now pending President Biden’s signature to become law.

Last summer, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released three reports that raised issues surrounding the deployment of the EHRM program. Two of the reports revealed concerns about cost estimates and reporting.

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The VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act would hold the VA accountable and increase transparency by requiring the VA secretary to submit periodic reports to Congress regarding the costs, performance metrics, and outcomes for EHRM.

Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced the legislation.

“The VA, and consequently our nation, has invested a great deal of time and money into the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization program,” Sen. Moran said in a statement. “The potential benefits of this program are tremendous, and we have to get it right.”

“This legislation and soon to be law will ensure the VA is providing the proper transparency throughout the EHRM implementation to better allow this committee to conduct oversight during the deployment process to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve and hold the VA accountable for taxpayer dollars,” Sen. Moran added.

Sen. Tester emphasized that the bill will help ensure veterans receive high-quality care.

“This bill is now on its way to the President’s desk,” Tester said. “I’m hopeful he signs it into law without delay so Congress is able to exercise strengthened oversight over this program, ensuring it delivers lasting value to the VA medical staff and veterans who use it.”

Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), along with Mike Braun (R-Ind.), co-sponsored the legislation.

Representatives Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Frank J. Mrvan (D-Ind.) introduced companion legislation that passed the House of Representatives last November.