In response to the March 8th cyberattack on Change Healthcare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has opened an investigation and CMS has released a letter of guidance urging UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare’s parent company, to expedite payments to providers, among other reforms. The letter also outlines the steps CMS is taking to assist states and health care providers.

The Latest on the Change Healthcare Attack

CMS has released a letter of guidance urging UnitedHealth and other insurance companies to expedite their payments to providers and to quickly identify and implement solutions. Interim payments to impacted providers, easing prior authorization requirements, and accelerated payments to Medicare Part A providers are some of the recommendations that have been proposed to ease complications. The letter also outlines the steps CMS is taking to assist states and providers, including a streamlined process for providers to change clearinghouses to ensure continuity of payments and directing Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to accept paper claim submissions throughout the course of delays and outages.

Since this happened, UnitedHealth Group announced that they have paid more than 2 billion dollars to providers and will continue to help as needed. In a press release, UnitedHealth CEO Andrew Witty stated: “We continue to make significant progress in restoring the services impacted by this cyberattack. We know this has been an enormous challenge for health care providers and we encourage any in need to contact us.”

Federal Investigation
Last week, HHS said that its Office of Civil Rights will focus on whether Change Healthcare or UnitedHealth Group violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). “Given the unprecedented magnitude of this cyberattack, and in the best interest of patients and health care providers, OCR is initiating an investigation into this incident,” HHS said in a “Dear Colleagues” letter to the industry.

AHPA extends our gratitude to Kevin Lopez, guest author of this article.
Kevin is a graduate student in the Master of Healthcare Administration program at Loma Linda University.