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

American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack delivers opening remarks. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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

The CEO of the American Hospital Association, Rick Pollack, stated on Thursday night that the aftermath of a recent ransomware attack on the nation’s biggest health care payment processor is “the most serious incident of its kind leveled against a U.S. health care organization.”


A widely used program that helps healthcare professionals handle insurance claims and patient payments has been rendered useless by the attack on Change Healthcare. As a standard countermeasure, the corporation has taken the majority of its systems offline to stop the attack from spreading.

“Nine days into the attack on Change Healthcare, a health care technology company that is part of Optum and owned by UnitedHealth Group, effects are continuing to be felt throughout the entire health care system,” Pollack said in a news release. The American Hospital Association is the country’s largest healthcare industry group.

The impact of the outage on small and midsize healthcare providers has been catastrophic. Physicians told CNBC that the disruption has stopped insurance companies from paying doctors and has even stopped them from electronically-filling prescriptions.

However, Change announced later on Friday that it has finished a new workaround for its electronic prescription service, which is now accessible to all users right away.

According to Change, it handles a third of all patient records in the United States and executes 15 billion health care transactions annually.

A representative for UnitedHealth Group, the parent firm of Change Healthcare, said via email that thousands of pharmacies are utilizing “offline processing workarounds.” According to the spokesperson, over 90% of the more than 70,000 pharmacies in the United States that utilize Change Healthcare’s payment processor use other methods for processing payments.

On its website, UnitedHealth Group disclosed that it had learned about the attack on February 21st and that hackers had used Alphv, a type of ransomware.

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

A representative for Change Healthcare said in a statement that the organization is collaborating with U.S. law enforcement and has hired two significant cybersecurity firms, Mandiant, which is owned by Google, and Palo Alto, to assist with recovery.

According to an email from the FBI on Friday afternoon, support is being provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the FBI itself.

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