Federal Office of Civil Rights investigating massive health care hack

Federal Office of Civil Rights investigating massive health care hack

Federal civil rights investigators are conducting an investigation to determine if protected health information was exposed in the recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare. The Office for Civil Rights will also assess whether Change Healthcare followed laws that protect patient privacy. Change Healthcare provides technology for insurance claims processing and handles approximately 14 billion transactions each year.

The investigation was prompted by the significant impact of the cyberattack, according to Office for Civil Rights Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. The Office for Civil Rights, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, enforces federal regulations that establish privacy and security requirements for patient health information. UnitedHealth Group, the owner of Change Healthcare, has stated they will cooperate with the investigation and are working with law enforcement to assess the extent of the attack.

Attackers breached some of Change Healthcare’s information technology systems last month, causing disruptions to billing and care authorization systems nationwide. The American Hospital Association reported that patients experienced delays in receiving prescriptions, while hospitals encountered difficulties processing claims, billing patients, and verifying insurance coverage. Change Healthcare has stated that all major pharmacy and payment systems are now back online, with plans to restore connections to their claims network and software by March 18.

The company disclosed that the ransomware group ALPHV, also known as Blackcat, was responsible for the breach. Cybersecurity experts note a significant increase in ransomware attacks in recent years, particularly targeting the healthcare sector. The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group, with the AP retaining full responsibility for all content.

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