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Crapo, Risch, Moran Lead Bill to Protect Veterans’ Health Records

Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senators Mike Crapo, Jim Risch (both R-Idaho) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) announced the introduction of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Standardization and Accountability of Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) Act.  This measure would freeze the VA rollout of the EHRM program until certain improvements have been made.

“America’s veterans deserve to know the systems housing their medical records are safe, reliable and user-friendly.” said Crapo.  “Numerous outstanding issues remain with the EHRM program, and it would be irresponsible to support its continued rollout until all concerns have been properly and adequately addressed.”

“Our nation’s veterans have gone through too much to see delays in services due to technology errors,” said Risch.  “The VA in Spokane, which serves North Idaho veterans, has experienced significant slowdowns.  While the VA appropriately postponed the deployment of the Oracle Cerner system to other facilities, Congress must intervene to protect the health care needs of our veterans.  The Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act will increase oversight of the electronic health record system and ensure no further sites go online until these burdensome issues are sorted.”

Last year, Crapo led an Idaho Congressional Delegation letter to VA Secretary McDonough expressing concerns with the VA’s prospective Electronic Health Record (EHR) launch.  The letter detailed two Office of Inspector General reports identifying a number of deficiencies in the EHR rollout at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington, which negatively impacted several Idaho veterans.  These deficiencies led to delays in patient care, refilling prescriptions and managing referrals, among other things.  The EHR system’s implementation was indefinitely postponed at the Boise VAMC from the original go-live date of June 25, 2022.

This bill would prevent the VA from implementing the EHR system at any new site until its director, chief of staff and Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) director certify:

  • The build and configuration of the system are correct for the site;
  • The staff and infrastructure of the site are adequately prepared; and
  • The EHR will not have adverse impacts on wait times, patient safety or quality.

The bill would also prevent the VA from starting go-live preparation activities at any new sites until the VA Secretary certifies:

  • The EHR has 99.9 percent uptime for four months; and
  • Submittal of a report detailing the completion of corrections to the customization of workflow designs related to the EHR system.