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Patients, providers still feeling the effects of cyberattack on UnitedHealth Group

Patients, providers still feeling the effects of cyberattack on UnitedHealth
Patients, providers still feeling the effects of cyberattack on UnitedHealth 02:34

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. -- A cyberattack on the nation's largest health care platform is making life very difficult for patients and providers in our area.

Payments and procedure authorizations are at a standstill and it's having a real impact on lives.

At a busy New Hyde Park medical practice, claims cannot get submitted, doctors aren't getting paid, and procedures aren't getting needed pre-authorization. The cyberattack on Change Health, owned by UnitedHealth, which handles much of the nation's medical records, was hacked three weeks ago.

"A huge part of that system is down. The people responsible for that system, for making it work, aren't stepping up to the plate," Dr. David Podwall, president of the Nassau County Medical Society, said on Thursday.

Podwall calls it a nightmare for patients and providers, impacting lives.

"Some of them have to stop taking salaries, talking about furloughing staff, closing services," he said.

READ MOREHacking at UnitedHealth unit cripples a swath of the U.S. health system: What to know

Ronald Laszlo of Westbury went 10 days with out needed medicine to prevent a transplanted kidney from being rejected, because the pharmacy couldn't get authorization.

"The bottom line is it could kill you," Laszlo said. "This is a consequence of big companies like UnitedHealth Care getting bigger and bigger. They buy other companies like Change and get so big, when something happens, everything comes to a stop."

Mental health providers are also not getting paid. The New Hyde Park clinic employs 65 people.

"Some of them have not been able to pay their student loans, rent, child care, and I feel bad I've had to use my own money to keep them going," said Clinton Clovis, president of New Hope Mental Health Counseling Services.

UnitedHealth said it is making substantial progress, having identified the source of the intrusion. It says pharmacy functions are back online. It plans to test the system next week, but cyber security advocate Beau Woods said, "It's not an isolated incident. It has been growing over time and it's time more than voluntary out of the goodness-of-our-heart measures are taken."

In the meantime, providers, like at New Hope Mental Health, say bear with it because they're working on a fix.

"I can't bear without money. We depend on the day-to-day flow of revenue to bear fruit and fruits are keeping people safe," Clovis said.

UnitedHealth said the incident serves as yet another reminder of the urgency of strengthening the industry's cyber safety resilience.

Biden administration officials met with UnitedHealth this week to urge it to provide more emergency funding during the crisis.  

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