Pull the plug on Oracle Cerner in the VA! Two House Representatives urge return to VistA, send bill to Veterans’ Affairs committee

Hold your hand up if this comes as a complete surprise. A Congressman who was the top Republican on a subcommittee overseeing technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has evidently had quite enough of the Oracle Cerner problems in implementing Cerner Millenium. Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana has introduced H.R.608, titled “To terminate the Electronic Health Record Modernization Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs”. It would pull the plug on Oracle within 180 days, dissolve the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization Integration Office, and restore VistA/CPRS. In other words, back to the drawing board.

It was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois who is the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where the bill was referred on 27 January. Rep. Rosendale is now the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization. 

This follows on last week’s two-day slowdown of both the VA and MHS Genesis systems, last summer’s Congressional hearings with the roasting that Oracle Health’s head Mike Sicilia and VA heads received over the OIG report on the ‘unknown queue’ that created 149 adverse events, and October’s delay in further Oracle Cerner rollouts in the VA from January 2023 to June.

While the likelihood that the bill would pass both House and Senate, and be signed into law, is low, H.R. 608 is one very heavy and clever cudgel for getting Oracle–and the VA staff involved with the conversion–to Pay Attention! Fix The Problems! There’s also leverage far beyond the VA EHR. Oracle has multiple Federal contracts which could be jeopardized or defunded. Stay tuned to further developments in VA’s Tower of Trouble and Oracle’s Mound of (Acquired) Misery.  Hat tip to HISTalk for the heads up, actually obtaining a screenshot of part of the bill which has not yet been posted on Congress.gov.  FCW.

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