UnitedHealth Provides Timeline on Restoring Services After Cyber-Attack

March 8, 2024
UnitedHealth: Pharmacy services have been restored; further services are expected to be restored by the week of March 18.

On March 7, UnitedHealth Group released a statement detailing the actions it is taking after the Feb. 21 cyber-attack on Change Healthcare. In the timeline it provided, UnitedHealth Group states that pharmacy services, including electronic prescriptions and claim submissions, have been completely restored.

Furthermore, the statement says the payment platform will be available for connection beginning March 15. The medical claims functionality is expected to be available for connection the week of March 18.

The American Medical Association (AMA) responded to the UnitedHealth Group update on March 8. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H., president of AMA, said in the statement: “The March 18 timeline for testing Change Healthcare claims systems means significant financial disruption on physician practices will extend past 26 days before there is the possibility of establishing reliable network connections. The prospect of a month or more without a restored Change Healthcare claims system emphasizes the critical need for economic assistance to physicians, including advancing funds to financially stressed medical practices.”

The AMA reiterated UnitedHealth Group’s call for advanced payments to medical health systems struggling with the fallout of the ransomware attack. Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group further recommends clients use workarounds as much as possible.

Earlier this week, Wired’s Andy Greenberg reported that the hackers, identified as AlphV or BlackCat, behind the ransomware attack, received a $22 million payment. “On March 1, a Bitcoin address connected to AlphV received 350 bitcoins in a single transaction, or close to $22 million based on exchange rates at the time,” Greenberg wrote.

In a news release, Clifford Neuman, a computer systems security expert at the University of Southern California (USC), said about the ransom payout: “The slow recovery—even after a ransom may have been paid—further demonstrates that the damage done by ransomware is not undone by paying off the criminals. The recovery process always involves significant effort and expense by the attacked organization to restore their systems to a state where they consider the systems to be safe to resume operations.”

In the USC’s news release, Richard Dang, an assistant professor at the USC Mann School of Pharmacy, said, “The cyberattack on Change Healthcare has had a detrimental impact on pharmacies and patients across the nation.”

This is a developing story. Healthcare Innovation will continue to update its readers on ongoing developments.

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