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Schumer calls for federal assistance for health care systems impacted by cyberattacks

Schumer said health care providers are forced to spend valuable time doing paperwork
Aurora Berry
Schumer said health care providers are forced to spend valuable time doing paperwork

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer traveled to Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca Monday to call for more protections for health care providers impacted by cyberattacks.

Last month, an anonymous hacker attacked Change Healthcare, a health care company that facilitates claims between insurance and providers, like Cayuga Health. Change Healthcare said one in three U.S. patient records are “touched” by the company.

Now, some hospitals are unable to process insurance claims and get paid for procedures and prescriptions.

The subsequent lack of incoming funds could be devastating to health care providers, Schumer said.

“It could mean layoffs,” he said at Monday’s press conference at Cayuga Medical Center. “It could mean certain types of health care that this institution provides might not be provided because they just don't have the money.”

Cayuga Health has over 20,000 payments on hold, according to Schumer.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS, could help to fill funding gaps caused by cyberattacks using the Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program, Schumer said.

The money would act as an advance while hospitals wait for the resolution of these cyberattacks.

“So if a certain procedure costs a couple of thousand bucks, and the insurance company can't pay it because their systems are tied in a knot, CMS would pay it."

These payments wouldn’t cost the federal government any money because of the expectation of repayment, Schumer said.

He also called for the FBI to prioritize their investigation into the attack.

“What happened was some evil hackers went into Change Healthcare, and paralyzed the system.”

The hackers are holding the system for ransom, Schumer said.

“They target health care systems, because they want to get paid.”

The Senate majority leader said the attacks distract health care systems from doing the work that really matters.

“We can't let a computer hack crash payments for our health care systems.”

He urged federal leadership to address the issue as soon as possible.