Tester, Murray, Brown Push VA to Renegotiate Tougher Electronic Health Record Modernization Contract for Veterans and Taxpayers

Senators call on VA to include stronger accountability provisions as it renegotiates EHRM contract with Oracle Health

Continuing their push to protect veterans and taxpayers, Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and his Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee colleagues U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to push for stronger accountability provisions in its ongoing contract negotiations with Oracle Health on the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program. The current contract is slated to expire on May 16, 2024. 

“We are writing to urge the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to act to protect taxpayers and veterans through stronger accountability provisions in the ongoing contract negotiations with Oracle Health related to the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program,” the Committee members wrote in a letter to VA Deputy Secretary Tanya Bradsher. “Last year, we pressed the Department to overhaul its EHRM contract with Oracle Health to provide VA more tools to hold the contractor accountable when the company did not deliver at expected levels…[and w]e were heartened by the Department’s May 2023 announcement of a revised contract with Oracle Health.”

VA’s previous contract from May 2018 had very few mechanisms to hold Oracle Health accountable for its numerous performance failures including system crashes, poorly tested software solutions that led to patient safety incidents, and insufficient training programs. The Senators highlighted years of VA oversight’s of the contractor “that lacked sufficient accountability”—compounding these systemic problems.

Following sustained efforts from the Senators to deliver veterans and VA medical staff a safer and better functioning EHR, VA’s renegotiated contract from May 2023 included stronger accountability provisions. This included setting higher standards for system reliability and contractor responsiveness and larger penalties when Oracle Health does not meet the expected standards. The contract also changed from a five-year term to five one-year terms, giving VA the opportunity to review Oracle Health’s progress every 12 months and renegotiate terms as appropriate to ensure they are delivering for veterans, VA employees, and taxpayers.

The Senators concluded, “While there have been some improvements to Oracle Health’s performance in the last 12 months, significant challenges remain… After years of veterans not receiving the care they deserve and VA staff not getting the system they need, the Department must take all steps possible to ensure VA is getting the services it purchased at a fair price and that Oracle Health is living up to its commitments. We encourage you to use the opportunity the new contract structure provides to re-review terms and add additional accountability and oversight provisions to protect veterans and taxpayers.”

Last year, Tester, Murray, and Brown spearheaded the EHR RESET Act to deliver a complete overhaul of the EHRM program. Their legislation includes provisions to restructure, enhance, and strengthen the entire EHRM program, while also mandating aggressive reporting to Congress to increase oversight, accountability, and transparency following a series of challenges with the system and program.Bipartisan companion EHR RESET Act legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.


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