McMorris Rodgers Demands VA Secretary Commit to Preventing Cuts at Spokane, Walla Walla Medical Centers

May 24, 2023
Press
Veterans

Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today demanded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough commit to preventing cuts to staff or services at the medical centers in Spokane and Walla Walla.

Her letter to the secretary comes after Mann-Grandstaff Medical Director, Dr. Robert J. Fischer, informed supervisors last week that the facility is facing a persistent and significant budget deficit in excess of $35 million as a result of the VA’s Oracle Cerner Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program. According to Dr. Fischer, hiring has already been restricted and a reduction in positions would be required. 

“Under no circumstances should a VA medical center have to face a budget shortfall and a reduction in either staff or services as a result of the failed EHR,” Cathy wrote in the letter. “VA medical centers still operating the Oracle Cerner EHR need more personnel and resources; not less.” 

“There will be no further go-live deployments of the system during VA’s announced EHR reset,” she continued. “Therefore, those funds originally obligated for further go-lives should be redirected to those medical centers experiencing budget deficits, facing staff reductions, and operationally struggling as a direct result of the EHR. During the reset period, the VA needs to guarantee that those medical centers that are unfortunately still charged with operating the EHR have the resources and personnel they need to ensure that our nation’s Veterans are receiving the care they have earned.”

She then asked, “Mr. Secretary, can you make a commitment to me and every veteran in Eastern Washington that your department will use every available dollar appropriated for the EHR to prevent a reduction in staff or services at Mann-Grandstaff and Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Medical Centers?”

In an ongoing effort to preempt any cuts to staff or services at VA medical centers in Eastern Washington, Cathy fought for and secured the following two provisions in the FY24 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill as laid out in the Committee’s Report:

  • (Page 45) Medical Center Services.—The Committee reminds the Department to ensure it consults with a wide variety of stakeholders regarding any changes to services, hours, and staffing prior to making changes and to ensure veterans are not negatively affected; and
  • (Page 72) Language is included under Title II prohibiting funding in the Veterans Electronic Health Record account from being obligated in a manner inconsistent with deployment schedules.

You can read the full letter here.

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