Tester, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Hold VA Accountable for Electronic Health Record Modernization Rollout

Legislation Will Require Responsible Oversight of $16 Billion Plan

(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Richard Blumenthal today introduced legislation to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stays on target and is transparent in its plan to roll out a new commercial electronic health record system for nine million veterans.

The Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act of 2017 requires the VA to provide a detailed plan about how it will ensure every veteran’s medical records are available electronically and are easily transferrable between any medical facilities.

“As the VA brings medical records into the 21st Century, it must be a responsible steward of taxpayer money,” said Tester. “This bill will hold the VA accountable, keep it on schedule, and bring more transparency to an important multibillion-dollar project. This transition will mean better health care for Montana’s and America’s veterans, but it requires accountability and efficiency that both veterans and taxpayers deserve.”

“This bill will hold VA accountable as they roll out a new, multibillion-dollar electronic health record system,” said Blumenthal. “While this massive project will modernize VA’s record system and improve care for millions of veterans, steps must be taken to ensure transparency and accountability for both taxpayers and veterans who will benefit from this new system.”

The legislation requires the VA to provide:

  • A one-time comprehensive report on timelines, cost projections, risk management plans, and a plan for ensuring that the new record works with non-VA providers.
  • Quarterly updates on the project’s implementation noting changes from the initial plan.
  • Prompt notice of delays, additional incurred cost, change in project scope, loss of clinical data, breach in patient privacy, disruption in patient care, or legal challenges.

This summer, the VA announced it would pursue the acquisition of the same electronic health records system used by the Department of Defense. It is estimated that rolling out the VA’s electronic health records system will take about eight years and cost at least $16 billion.

The Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act of 2017 is available online HERE.