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Ransomware Attack Targets U.S. Healthcare Payment Processor In ‘Most Serious Incident Of Its Kind’

Rick Pollack, President and CEO of the American Hospital Association, will deliver opening remarks. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:16pm – Friday, March 1, 2024

Rick Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association, said Thursday night that the fallout from the recent ransomware attack on the nation’s largest healthcare payment processor is “the most severe incident of its kind against a U.S. healthcare provider.” said.

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The attack on Change Healthcare rendered a widely used program to help healthcare professionals process insurance claims and patient payments useless. As a standard measure, the company took most of its systems offline to prevent the attack from spreading.

“Nine days after the attack on Change Healthcare, a healthcare technology company that is part of Optum and owned by UnitedHealth Group, the impact continues to be felt across the health system,” Pollack said in a news release. ” he said. The American Hospital Association is the nation’s largest healthcare industry association.

The impact of service outages on small and medium-sized healthcare providers is devastating.the doctors said CNBC The disruption caused insurance companies to stop paying doctors and even prevent them from filling prescriptions electronically.

But Change announced late Friday that it had finalized a new workaround for its e-prescription service, making it immediately accessible to all users.

According to Change, the company processes one-third of all patient records in the United States and executes 15 billion medical transactions annually.

A representative for Change Healthcare’s parent company, UnitedHealth Group, said in an email that thousands of pharmacies are using “offline processing workarounds.” More than 90% of the more than 70,000 U.S. pharmacies that use Change Healthcare’s payment processors use other methods to process payments, a spokesperson said.

UnitedHealth Group said on its website that it learned of the attack on February 21st.cent And the hackers were using Alphv, a type of ransomware.

Although it appears to have partially recovered, a consortium of American and European law enforcement agencies announced an operation to disrupt Alpv in December.

Change Healthcare representatives said in a statement that the organization is working with U.S. law enforcement and has hired two major cybersecurity companies, Google Inc.’s Mandiant and Palo Alto, to assist with the recovery. Stated.

The Department of Health and Human Services, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the FBI itself are providing assistance, according to an email from the FBI Friday afternoon.

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