Fitch: Change Healthcare attack may hurt smaller providers' credit

Fitch Ratings said the Change Healthcare cyberattack could negatively affect the credit profiles of smaller healthcare providers, pharmacies and other companies that rely on the UnitedHealth Group subsidiary for services. 

The ratings agency said in a March 18 report that it predicts any credit implications from the attack are likely to be limited to smaller companies due to their "limited financial flexibility to withstand even temporary cash flow disruptions." These companies tend to be rated in the "CCC" to low-to-mid "B" categories, which indicates low margins of safety. 

Fitch said it assumes higher-rated companies, which typically are publicly traded, have the flexibility to withstand the disruptions. 

"This is supported by most publicly traded issuers not viewing the event as material enough to warrant filing 8-Ks," Fitch said in the report, adding that more will be known about the attack's financial implications after first-quarter 2024 earnings results are reported.  

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