By Darius Tahir | 05/03/2018 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Arthur Allen (@arthurallen202), Paul Demko (@pauldemko) and Mohana Ravindranath (@ravindranize)
CERNER SLOGGING: The first quarter of 2018 was not a kind one for Cerner. The company’s net earnings declined by $13 million so far this year when compared to a similar period in 2017, the firm announced Wednesday. The reasons are not exactly mysterious: Cerner’s president, Zane Burke, acknowledged during the earnings call that the delay in the VA contract contributed to the decline. What’s more, the company doesn’t expect the deal to get signed until the latter half of the year.
Cerner has become snarled by politics. As our colleague Arthur Allen reported Sunday, a West Palm Beach doctor using an outdated version of Cerner’s software has gotten a bee up his bonnet – or perhaps a wasp down his white coat – about the software system. Because he’s part of the Mar-a-Lago social crowd, he’s gotten the ear of Marvel executive Ike Perlmutter, who has in turn pulled political strings with his friends in the Trump administration. That’s delayed the contract.
The delay in the deal has now riled up Congressional Democrats. On Wednesday, leading Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee sent a letter based on POLITICO’s reporting to acting VA secretary Robert Wilkie and the department’s inspector general asking them to explain the reasons for the delays. The letter does not state a deadline for their request.
– Meanwhile…: Former Rep. Jeff Miller is one of the leaders in the clubhouse for the Veterans Affairs secretary nomination, the Washington Post reported, citing a Wednesday meeting between the former congressman and the White House’s vetting office. It’s by no means a certainty, but something to keep an eye on.
As a congressman, Miller was a proponent of expanding private sector options for veterans. While we haven’t been able to find Miller taking a firm position on the VistA switchover, he was highly critical of the Obama-era VA’s IT record in this FCW article.