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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 21, 1996. Congress passed this landmark law to protect the privacy of health care data, and to promote more standardization and efficiency in the health care industry. It was the expectation, that with the advancement of technology at the time, Electronic Health Records would rapidly roll out, allowing health practitioners easier access to a patients health information across unrelated treatment ecosystems.

In California Workers’ Compensation, it is obvious – twenty six years after passage of HIPAA – that this expectation has yet to be realized. Medical records in workers’ compensation are not that portable, and photocopy services are commonly used to physically photocopy records, which are then transmitted across the industry often in the form of physical paper.

And in another ecosystem, the Veterans Administration has been working to improve the sharing of Veteran health information by implementing a new $16 billion electronic health record, or EHR system, which is the software that stores health information and tracks all aspects of patient care for Veterans.

In addition to being shared across VA medical facilities, the new EHR is also the same one used by the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and participating community health care providers.

In May 2018, VA awarded Cerner Corp. a contract to replace its current EHR systems with a new EHR based on the same commercial off-the-shelf platform currently being deployed by the Department of Defense (DOD), Cerner Millennium.

Cerner Corporation is an American supplier of health information technology (HIT) services, devices, and hardware. As of February 2018, its products were in use at more than 27,000 facilities around the world. The company had more than 29,000 employees globally, with over 13,000 in Kansas City, Missouri, its headquarters.

In December 2021, Oracle Corporation announced an agreement to buy Cerner for approximately $28.3 billion. The deal closed in June 2022.

But the VA technology initiative does not seem to be going along quite as well as it had been planned. reports that Veterans Affairs officials are delaying the rollout of their new electronic health records system to sites in Michigan amid continued concerns about the safety and reliability of the software, the latest setback for the embattled program.

In a letter to staffers, Laura Ruzick, the regional director for VA operations in Michigan, said that training set to begin next week in anticipation of a June rollout of the Oracle Cerner software will instead be postponed.

The delay is the latest in a series of setbacks for the 10-year, $16 billion health records overhaul project, launched by President Donald Trump in 2017. Only five of the department’s 170-plus medical sites have begun using the software, and new deployments have been delayed for months amid concerns with the new system.

In the last few weeks, lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced a series of legislative proposals to delay future deployments until VA officials can verify that certain patient safety, staff training and software usability standards have been reached.

Several Republican lawmakers have also publicly supported abandoning the project, questioning whether the system can ever be fully functional. VA and Oracle Cerner have insisted that it can work, and that the move is needed to bring veterans’ medical files onto the same platform as the Defense Department’s records.

On Thursday, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost, R-Ill., and Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., the chair of the committee’s technology panel, called the delay the right decision considering the ongoing problems with the system.

VA officials are currently reviewing their contract with Oracle Cerner on the records system, with an eye towards renewing it for the final five years.