Home Health ‘All I can do is hope they have it available’: Patients tell DailyMail.com about their struggle to get prescriptions as healthcare providers plead with the White House for help after cyberattack.

‘All I can do is hope they have it available’: Patients tell DailyMail.com about their struggle to get prescriptions as healthcare providers plead with the White House for help after cyberattack.

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'All I can do is hope they have it available': Patients tell DailyMail.com about their struggle to get prescriptions as healthcare providers plead with the White House for help after cyberattack.

Last month’s massive cyberattack against a major health system has forced millions of Americans to stop taking their medications or pay exorbitant fees out of pocket.

The impact of the BlackCat cyber gang attack is so severe that hospital groups are urging the federal government to step in and provide expedited payments to doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other healthcare providers currently struggling to bill patients and receive Payments.

Change Healthcare, a subsidiary of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, processes billing claims and payments to insurers.

The ransomware attack on the company, which processes 15 billion claims totaling more than $1.5 trillion a year, affected nearly every aspect of its operations.

The hack has meant pharmacies are unable to process insurance payments, forcing desperate Americans to hand over potentially thousands of dollars worth of medications that would normally be covered by insurance and cost much less.

And people who rely on medication every day have detailed to DailyMail.com the ordeal they have endured to obtain life-saving prescriptions.

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The number of cyberattacks on healthcare providers has more than doubled since 2016: 91 per year in 2021, up from 43 five years ago.

Change Healthcare launched a temporary funding program for providers struggling with cash flow after the cyberattack.

The program requires repayment of funds and gave no indication of when the normal billing process would resume.

Optum Financial Services, through which the scheme is offered, said: ‘We have been able to estimate your average weekly payments, which will form the basis for support.

“Our plan is to go week by week and have people recover funds each week as the needs persist.”

But the American Hospital Association, a trade group representing nearly 5,000 health care systems, sharply criticized the company for making the funding available only to an “extremely small” number of hospitals.

The group sent letters to congressional leaders and the UnitedHealth group urging both entities to do more.

In its communication to United, the group said the company’s temporary financing program “wasn’t even a Band-Aid for the payment issues you identify.”

The AHA continued: ‘As you know, hospitals across the United States typically receive daily reimbursements from health insurers that rely on Change Healthcare to both receive and pay claims.

“Every day that Change Healthcare’s core functionality remains down is a day that providers do not receive the funds they need to pay doctors and nurses, purchase medical supplies, and keep complex facilities open to provide 24-hour patient care. , 7 days a week”.

The group also told Congress that the cyberattack was “the largest cyberattack on the U.S. healthcare system in U.S. history.”

And Democrats seem fine with increasing federal government payments to thousands of hospitals.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the delay in payments to providers “is costing hospitals across the country millions every week this continues, and some people are even having difficulty getting prescriptions in your local pharmacy.

“We need to give our hospitals the immediate relief they need so they are not forced to reduce patient care.”

Hospitals and doctors submit insurance claims to cover some or all of their patients’ care. But with the system in its current state, they can’t do that, which hurts their bottom line and, ultimately, the quality of care they can provide.

UnitedHealth Group, for its part, has not offered an expected date for resolving the issues.

Tyler Mason, vice president of communications at UHG, told DailyMail.com: “We are focused on the investigation and restoring operations at Change.”

But patients have described a frustrating experience trying to get the medications they need, and in some cases, they are forced to pay more than $2,000 for a prescription that would normally cost them between $10 and $30.

Olivia Coltrane, originally from the Seattle area, said her usual prescription for generic Vyvance to treat her ADHD normally costs about $3, but she had to pay $92, a markup of nearly 3,000 percent.

Coltrane detailed to DailyMail.com the effort it took to get his medication and even when he did, it was only for a two-week supply.

Her doctor sent the prescription to her local Costco pharmacy three or four times and they didn’t receive it.

Finally, when he called for the fourth time to register, the pharmacist informed him of a system-wide attack and that his doctor’s e-prescribing platform was down.

She was told she needed to get a printed prescription, something her doctor usually doesn’t do.

Ms. Coltrane told this website: “So the doctor’s office is trying to find another provider and I would have to drive an hour and a half to get the prescription.”

And they’re like, “Oh yeah, we have someone but they’re working from home today.” So I called the insurance company and they were able to make an exception only until five pm that day.

“I spent two and a half hours on the phone with insurance companies, pharmacies and doctors trying to get my medications filled.”

She was finally able to get her medication at another hospital pharmacy, but she only has seven days of medication left and isn’t sure what her next quest to get a refill will look like.

She said: “All I can do is hope they have it in stock.”

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Margaret Brown, 50, has struggled for weeks to get her son insulin for his type 1 diabetes.

She called for a refill in late February and was told by a pharmacist that a recent violation had disrupted her ability to fill prescriptions and bill insurance.

Typically, Ms. Brown spends zero dollars on insulin for a month, but this time she would have had to pay $400.

She told DailyMail.com that since she still had some insulin left, she waited a while to call the pharmacy again to see if her claim had been processed.

She said: Yesterday I went to the pharmacy and asked them again. And they never called me or anything. I just went there and they told me it was ready and it was approved.

“So he didn’t run out of money, but if he was going to run out of money, I would have had to pay the $400.”

Coltrane and Brown expressed concern for other Americans who depend on crucial medications and cannot get them.

Mrs Brown said the situation was especially stressful given her son’s need for insulin, adding: “I can’t imagine what other people are going through with other types of medication, like hypertension or things like that.” I don’t know. Maybe they just pay for it directly, but insulin is too expensive for the average person anyway.’

This was far from the first cyberattack on health systems. Eighty-eight percent of health systems surveyed last year said they had experienced at least one attack in the past year.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents who experienced ransomware attacks said the attacks negatively affected patient safety and care.

The White House is considering a variety of options to respond to this attack and prevent more in the future, including retaliation against the cyber gang and longer-term initiatives aimed at strengthening hospitals’ cybersecurity and prohibiting ransom payments in the future, Politico reported.

The recent attack affected UnitedHealth’s mail-order pharmacy service, Optum, as well as several other pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, Costco, Publix and Kroger.

CVS Health, which serves about 100 million Americans daily at 9,000 pharmacies, said the hack meant that, “in certain cases,” it could not process insurance claims.

“We are committed to ensuring access to care as we navigate this disruption,” the company’s statement said. A spokesperson for the network did not immediately provide further details.

And Walgreens, which serves nine million customers, said a “small percentage” of its prescriptions “may be affected.” Even so, the company had guarantees to process and fulfill them “with a minimum of delay or interruption.”

The company said it had no additional information to share about the incident.

The February 21 hack forced Change Healthcare to take all of its systems offline to mitigate the risk of an even larger attack.

But that move led to the suspension of more than 100 services and the risk that hospital systems and other providers would soon become insolvent.

The hack has apparently cost them about $100 million each day, according to First Health Advisory, a private risk management firm.

The fallout from the attack has been compared to the 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, in which cybercriminals stole 100 gigabytes of data over a two-hour period.

Like that attack, this latest one marks a crisis for the industry and an overall national security concern.

On Sunday night, someone claiming to be from a BlackCat affiliate posted on the cybercrime forum Ramp that UHG had paid a ransom of 22 million dollars in the form of Bitcoin, but the claim has not been verified.

However, if true, it would set a dangerous precedent for giving in to cyberattacks by terrorists.

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