White House urges UnitedHealth CEO to do more in wake of Change attack

Officials with the Biden administration met with UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty on March 12, urging the company to provide more emergency funding to healthcare providers facing significant financial disruptions from a cyberattack on its subsidiary, Change Healthcare, people familiar with the meeting told The Washington Post. 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and White House Domestic Policy Chief Neera Tanden were among administration officials who met with Mr. Witty, demanding UnitedHealth and other insurers take more steps to stabilize the payment crisis healthcare providers are facing following the attack that took many payer and prescribing systems offline, sources told the news outlet. Meetings with individual stakeholders have been held since news of the initial attack in February, though Tuesday's meeting was the first to bring together providers and payers, an HHS spokesperson told Reuters

Mr. Becerra and Ms. Tanden reportedly pushed insurers in attendance to account for premiums they're collecting from patients while payments to healthcare organizations are backlogged.

Change, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth, is the nation's largest medical claims processor and handles 15 billion transactions per year. Hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and insurers nationwide have reported significant cash flow issues in the wake of the cyberattack, which the American Hospital Association has called "the most significant and consequential incident" against the nation's healthcare system in history. Hospitals have said they are losing tens of millions per day as a result of related disruptions, with some larger systems estimated to be bleeding more than $100 million per day. 

CMS has made advanced payments available to providers experiencing financial disruptions and urged commercial payers to follow suit. On March 1, Change set up a temporary funding assistance program, which providers have criticized for being insufficient relative to the disruptions they're experiencing and coming with "one-sided" contractual terms.

As of March 7, Change's Healthcare's pharmacy electronic prescribing is fully functional, while its electronic payment platform is expected to be back live on March 15. Work to restore the company's medical claims network and software is expected to begin March 18. 

 

Read more of the latest updates on response actions from CMS and UnitedHealth here

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