Mar 5, 2024 - Health

Health providers ask feds to intervene in cyber outage

Illustration of a health plus made of binary code slowly fading.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Health providers are slamming UnitedHealth Group's response to the crippling ransomware attack against its subsidiary Change Healthcare and are pressing the Biden administration to intervene.

Why it matters: Hospitals and a host other health interests have seen payment systems slow to a crawl because of the attack against Change, with some warning they're running dangerously low on cash as they await a fix.

What they're saying: "The Temporary Funding Assistance Program that your company announced on Friday is not even a Band-Aid," American Hospital Association CEO Rick Pollack wrote in a letter to UnitedHealth Group CEO Dirk McMahon.

Between the lines: The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued public letters calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to step in and address the ongoing disruption.

  • They are pushing for HHS to make accelerated and advanced payments available from federal health programs and instruct commercial insurers to make accommodations, as well.
  • AHA also specifically called on the department to hold UnitedHealth Group accountable for fixing the problem, including "implementing a meaningful financial assistance program."
  • "We urge you to press the executive branch for bold, swift action to prevent further fallout and to ensure a complete and fulsome response from UnitedHealth Group," Pollack wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders.

The other side: "Our experts are working to address the matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement and leading third-party consultants such as Mandiant and Palo Alto Networks on this attack against Change Healthcare's systems," according to a statement from UnitedHealth Group.

  • "Patient care is our top priority, and we have multiple workarounds to ensure people have access to the medications and the care they need."
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