The Senate late last week approved legislation that aims to increase the transparency of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Electronic Health Records Modernization (EHRM) program through regular reporting requirements. The Senate’s vote sends the bill to President Biden’s desk for a final signature.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Ranking Member Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act in December. The bill aims to hold the VA accountable for its EHRM program, which has come under fire from Congress and VA Office of Inspector General reports over a troubled roll-out and inaccurate cost estimates.
Reps. Mark Takano, D-Calif., Mike Bost, R-Ill., and Frank Mrvan, D-Ind., introduced companion legislation in the House, which passed the full chamber in November 2021.
“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,” he added.
The bill calls for periodic reporting from the VA on the costs, performance metrics, and outcomes of its EHRM program. The bill also calls for an initial 90-day reporting window.
The bill gained robust bipartisan support from a number of senators, with Sens. 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., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., cosponsoring the legislation.
“Providing our veterans with seamless, high-quality care means making sure the electronic health record system is hitting the mark – for vets, for their families, and for taxpayers,” said Sen. Tester. “This bill is now on its way to the President’s desk. 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.”