News: AHA calls for federal intervention over Change Healthcare cyberattack

CDI Strategies - Volume 18, Issue 10

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has issued a response on the recent cybersecurity attack against Change Healthcare calling on Congress to intervene, according to Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare (PSQH).

On February 21, Change Healthcare—a subsidiary of the UnitedHealth Group—was the victim of the “most significant cyberattack on the U.S. health care system in American history,” according to the AHA.

Change Healthcare is responsible for a variety of different healthcare functions, including managing clinical criteria used in authorizing patient care and coverage, claims processing, clinical information exchange, and drug prescription processing.

According to the AHA, the cyberattack has not only delayed access to critical and timely care but has also caused “billions of dollars” to stop flowing to providers.

“In some communities, patients have struggled to obtain prescriptions or have faced delays in scheduling care or receiving and paying bills. Hospitals, health systems and other providers are experiencing extraordinary reductions in cash flow, threatening their ability to make payroll and to acquire the medical supplies need to provide care,” the AHA response said.

The AHA also noted that the “staggering loss of revenue” for health systems suggests that “some hospitals and health systems may be unable to pay salaries for clinicians and other members of the care team,” as well as “acquire necessary medicines and supplies.”

Therefore, the AHA has called on Congress to:

  • Direct the Medicare Administrative Contractors to prioritize and expedite review and approval of hospital requests for Medicare advanced payments.
  • Issue guidance to all payers that outlines expectations that payers will implement periodic interim payments or advanced payments to providers; waive timely filing requirements for claims; extend timelines for appeals; and not deny claims due to lack of authorization, failure to give notice of admission, failure to check eligibility electronically, failure to receive medical records or failure to timely appeal denials; among other considerations given the widespread disruption in routine operating procedures.
  • Use all power at the Secretary’s disposal to ensure that UnitedHealth Group takes all necessary steps to remedy the situation, including implementing a meaningful financial assistance program and engage in frequent and forthright communication with providers.

Editor’s note: To read the PSQH coverage, click here. To read the AHA letter, click here.

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