Provider lawsuits pile up in wake of Change hack

Providers are beginning to file lawsuits against UnitedHealth Group's Change Healthcare over the Feb. 21 cyberattack that has crippled hospitals, physician practices and pharmacies across the country.

At least six federal lawsuits were filed by providers against UnitedHealth and Change Healthcare between March 14 and 20, according to federal court records. 

The first of those suits was a proposed class-action filed March 14 by New Albany, Miss.-based Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology. The suit said that as a result of Change disconnecting its systems to prevent further attacks, the practice was cut off from more than 100 services provided by Change. These included benefits verification, claims submission and prior authorization. Without these services, Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology and proposed class members said they cannot be paid for their work with patients. 

The lawsuit alleges that UnitedHealth and Change failed to "take and implement reasonable measures to ensure that sensitive information was safeguarded and failing to take available steps to prevent unauthorized disclosure of data and failing to follow applicable, required and appropriate protocols, policies, and procedures regarding the encryption of data, even for internal use."

Another proposed class-action suit, filed March 18 by Concord, Calif.-based Bay Area Therapy Group, alleged that as a result of the companies' failure to maintain the security of their computer networks, the practice had to take out emergency loans with interest rates of 50% to meet payroll and pay other basic expenses. 

A March 20 proposed class-action suit filed by Oakhurst, N.J.-based Luxe Dental Spa said that at the time of filing it had "not been advised whether its or its patients' confidential information has been compromised."

Patients have also filed lawsuits over the cyberattack. 

When asked for comment on the lawsuits, a UnitedHealth Group spokesperson told Becker's, "We are focused on the investigation and recovery of Change Healthcare’s operations."

On March 18, UnitedHealth Group said it advanced more than $2 billion to providers and is launching software for medical claims preparation. The company has restored 99% of pharmacy network services. Change's electronic payments platform was restored March 15, with payer implementations underway.

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