Senate lawmakers propose bill to address VA electronic heath record failures

Sens. Patty Murry, D-WA, Jon Tester, D-MT and Sherrod Brown, D-OH, are sponsoring the legislative proposal.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing featuring former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in the Dirksen Senate Office Building (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Democrats on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs have introduced a bill that would overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs’ electronic health record if it passes into law.

The proposed legislation would require the agency to undertake a range of measures to improve the platform, including the development of clear metrics to decide when the IT system should be rolled out at other VA facilities. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Jon Tester, D-Mont. and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are sponsoring the bill.

Called the EHR Program RESET Act, the bill would require the VA and the EHR’s developer Oracle Cerner to fix underlying issues with the technology identified in a sprint report published last month. The bill would also compel the department not to implement the technology at any additional health facilities until data shows that it is surpassing the performance of the VA’s VistA legacy health record platform.

Included in the legislation also is the requirement for the VA to appoint a lead senior negotiator for managing aggressive contract negotiations with Oracle Cerner and to develop a “plan B” strategy for an alternative system in case negotiations for the future provision of services by Oracle Cerner fail.


The bill would also mandate the addition of health care experts with proven electronic health record expertise to an existing VA advisory committee.

The Senate legislative proposal comes after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the House of Representatives have put forward similar bills.

Last month, House Democrats proposed two bills that would either overhaul or halt entirely the EHR modernization. News of those bills was first reported by FedScoop in February.

Commenting on the proposal, Sen. Murray said: “I have been clear from the start—VA cannot continue with its current EHR system until it works for providers and keeps patients safe. This legislation will put into law the kind of aggressive oversight necessary to fix the current system—that’s my first priority.”

“Importantly, this set of reforms will also overhaul the contracts and acquisitions process so that the issues we’ve seen these last few years can be prevented in the future. I want to make sure the dedicated providers at VA can do their jobs and that our veterans are getting the high quality care they have earned and deserve. Let’s pass the EHR Program RESET Act as soon as possible.”

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