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ICYMI – Union Leader: Hassan secures better loan terms for NH hospitals hit by cyberattack

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) secured financial relief for hospitals affected by last month’s Change Healthcare cyberattack. Senator Hassan has been at the forefront of efforts to secure aid for hospitals and doctors on fair terms, pushing the CEO of UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of Change Healthcare, and she has raised the issue with both President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra in recent weeks.

Senator Hassan has led efforts to ensure that U.S. healthcare systems are protected from potential cyberattacks. Last month, Senator Hassan and colleagues introduced a bipartisan bill to protect U.S. healthcare systems from hackers, and in November 2023, Senator Hassan helped launch a bipartisan working group to strengthen cybersecurity in the health care and public health sectors. 

Read more from the Union Leader here or below:

Union Leader: Hassan secures better loan terms for NH hospitals hit by cyberattack

By Kevin Landrigan

UnitedHealth Group was improving its offer of loan assistance to New Hampshire hospitals trying to avoid financial insolvency after a massive cyberattack took down the insurer’s payment platform, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan said.

“New Hampshire hospitals, in particular our rural hospitals, saw as much as 98 percent of their cash flow disappear overnight as a result of this cyberattack – putting at serious risk their ability to stay afloat and care for patients,” Hassan said, D-N.H.

[…] Because of the number of patients with health insurance through UnitedHealth, all New Hampshire hospitals were affected to some degree, but the hardest-hit were these five hospitals because they relied on the insurance firm to process all their payments.

New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) President Steve Ahnen credited Hassan with pressuring UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty to make more favorable assistance provided to providers until the firm's platform was fully restored.

“This problem is going to be with us for a while and the initial terms UnitedHealth offered to hospitals were a loan that no business would voluntarily enter into,” Ahnen said during an interview.

“Senator Hassan really went to bat for our members and forced UnitedHealth to come up with assistance that can keep them functioning in an already-very difficult economic climate.”

[…] After the hack happened, Hassan said she spoke with President Joe Biden when he visited New Hampshire on March 11. She also talked recently with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra as she pursued these negotiations.

“I am pleased that UnitedHealth has responded to the concerns of small and rural providers in New Hampshire,” Hassan said.

“As the response to this cyberattack continues, UnitedHealth and the federal government must do all that they can to securely restore systems and to support medical providers, and I will work with my colleagues to develop recommendations for improving health care cybersecurity to prevent an attack like this from happening again.”

The cyberattack was the largest on a health care company in U.S. history. UnitedHealth Group processes 15 billion insurance claims a year and handles 1 in every 3 medical records.

[…] Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chairs the subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight.

In November, she launched a working group to strengthen cybersecurity efforts in health care and public health fields.

A 2020 law that Hassan co-wrote with a bipartisan group of senators created a cybersecurity coordinator in every state to help all governments, schools, hospitals and other business entities to better protect systems against cyberattacks.