(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation with Ranking Member Jerry Moran to increase transparency surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program.
Earlier this year, Tester publicly responded to deficiencies reported by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) that raised concerns surrounding the deployment of the EHRM program. Two of the reports raised issues with cost estimates and reporting. Tester’s 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.
“As Chairman, I remain laser-focused on making sure the VA electronic health record project delivers real value to Department medical staff and the veterans they serve,” said Tester. “This commonsense bill is part of our ongoing push to increase accountability and transparency of this new program, and I thank Ranking Member Moran for working with me to ensure we hit the mark on behalf of veterans and taxpayers.”
In July 2020, the Senator led the charge in demanding transparency from the Trump Administration on the roll-out of the EHRM program—specifically calling for accurate cost estimates for the significant upgrades to VA’s physical and information technology infrastructure. To address these and other EHRM challenges, VA Secretary Denis McDonough launched a strategic review under the Biden Administration following a bipartisan, bicameral push by Tester and his colleagues. Tester also worked to include a provision in the annual VA funding bill requiring the Department to provide a full account of EHR-related infrastructure costs.
At a Committee hearing on July 14, VA announced an initial set of critical reforms consistent with those championed by Tester to tackle long-standing issues with the planning and deployment of the EHRM system.
Text of the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021 can be found HERE.