May 17, 2018

Ranking Member Walz Statement On VA EHR Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) released the following statement after the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) entered into a contract with Cerner Corporation to modernize VA’s electronic health record (EHR) system:

“Modernizing VA’s electronic health record system has been one of my highest priorities since coming to Congress,” said Rep. Walz. “For too long, servicemembers transitioning from the Department of Defense (DoD) to VA healthcare have been unable to take their medical records with them. That is why I have often said that any effort to modernize VA’s EHR system ought to prioritize interoperability with DoD. While I’m glad this important process is finally underway, I still have many concerns with regard to how the Trump Administration will implement the $16 billion initiative.”

“Just last week, multiple media outlets reported that Cerner failed to effectively implement their EHR system at multiple DoD facilities, citing a botched rollout process that put patients’ lives at risk and lacked operational effectiveness. I find the details of these reports to be disturbing and absolutely unacceptable. The root cause of these issues must be identified and remedied before VA implementation can move forward.

“I am also concerned by President Trump’s failure to appoint qualified leaders to implement EHR modernization. Most recently, the Trump Administration named Camilo Sandoval, an inexperienced campaign staffer accused of sexual harassment, to serve as VA’s acting Chief Information Officer, the person tasked with carrying out VA’s $16 billion EHR overhaul. Not only does this appointment raise serious concerns with regard to experience, but also data security. These concerns stem from Sandoval’s previous position as Director of Data Operations in 2016 while the Trump campaign was contracting with Cambridge Analytica, a firm which misused the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, including veterans.

“Issues like these are why the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act is so important. Whether it is preventing disruptions in patient care, protecting the privacy of veterans, or ensuring American taxpayer dollars are invested responsibly and in a way that will improve healthcare delivery for veterans, my bill, which unanimously passed out of committee last week, will ensure Congress has the authority it needs to hold VA accountable every step of the way. I urge Speaker Ryan to take up the bill on the House floor without delay and urge its swift passage before Memorial Day.”