The length of time the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have to scrutinize Oracle’s acquisition of the principal company behind the Department of Veterans Affairs’ electronic health record (EHR) modernization program has been extended.
Antitrust authorities now have until Feb. 22 to consider the $28.3 billion deal after Oracle resubmitted a premerger report to lengthen the review period, according to company filings. The DOJ can shorten the period or issue a second request that would further extend the timeline.
The FTC and DOJ have the power to block or order remedies for mergers deemed anticompetitive, and under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, all transactions above a certain threshold must be reported to the agencies. The threshold was recently increased to $101 million.
Both companies announced the all-cash deal Dec. 20, as part of which Cerner would become a dedicated industry business unit within Oracle.
The acquisition comes as the EHR modernization program at the Department of Veterans Affairs has received scrutiny following major cost overruns and safety concerns.
In January, shortly after the announcement of the deal, two purported Cerner shareholders filed separate complaints against the company and its board members. Each complaint asserts claims under Section 14 of the Exchange Act, which prohibits material misrepresentations and omissions in proxy statements sent to shareholders.
Earlier this month, a wide-ranging report by the Government Accountability Office found that the VA had failed to ensure data transferred during the rollout of its new EHR met clinicians’ needs. It found that the department failed to sufficiently monitor the accessibility, accuracy and appropriateness of clinical information as it was transferred in segments from one system to another.
The concerns were raised in relation to a staging environment used as data was transferred from the VA’s National Data Center in Austin, Texas, to a data center operated by Cerner.
Cerner’s Millennium platform and its HealtheIntent cloud platform form the backbone of VA’s health records modernization strategy, which relies on transferring patient data off the VA’s legacy Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA).
If the deal concludes, it will be the biggest ever for Oracle, which has a market value of more than $280 billion.
Oracle and Cerner did not respond to a request for comment.