Recommended actions for practices affected by Change Healthcare cyberattack

Impacts on electronic payments and e-prescribing, anticipated restoration of services
March 7, 2024
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A woman in scrubs appears is looking at a computer screen and has her hand on the mouse. She appears to be at the front desk of a dental or medical clinic.
QUICK SUMMARY: Dental offices that are impacted by the ransomware attack on Change Healthcare may experience delays in claim payments, revenue cycle disruptions and impacts to their e-prescribing platforms. Offices that use services tied to Change Healthcare should keep track of their claims and take other actions such as changing over to another clearinghouse or printing and mailing their claims. Watch "What dental practices need to know about the Change Healthcare attack" for recommended actions.

Updated March 12 to include anticipated restoration of services plus information on specific impacts to electronic prescribing and Medi-Cal Dental Program providers.

The Feb. 21 ransomware attack on Change Healthcare continues to create problems for health care practices’ cashflow and patients’ prescription access nationwide. Impacted dental offices may experience delays in claim payments and revenue cycle disruptions.

Modern Healthcare reported that providers are “temporarily losing out on millions of dollars in revenue” due to more than two weeks of delayed payments forcing some providers to dip into their cash reserves.

The impact on Medicare and Medicaid providers, including Medi-Cal Dental providers, is especially severe due to the programs’ preauthorization requirements, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is urging managed care plans to make prospective payments to providers.

Electronic prescribing services may be impacted

Dentists may also see impacts to some e-prescribing platforms. In this circumstance, prescribers may use paper forms for prescriptions until they can return to or obtain new e-prescribing service.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has sent at least two notifications to DEA registrants, including notice on March 7 that the SureScripts EPCS platform used to transmit controlled substances prescriptions was fully operational “with minimal issues” after being turned off between Feb. 23-March 2. An earlier notice asked registrants with questions about the impact on controlled-substance prescribing to contact the DEA.

Electronic payments expected to resume March 15

Although the ransomware attack did not directly affect all Change Healthcare systems and products, the company shut all of them down as part of its response to the cyberattack. Parent Company on system restorations. As of March 11, UnitedHealth reported several anticipated and completed restorations including:

  • Electronic payment functionality will be available for connection beginning March 15.
  • Claims network and software connection testing will occur March 18-22.
  • Electronic prescribing became fully functional with claim submission on March 8.
  • The Change Healthcare Pharmacy Network went back online on March 8.

While UnitedHealth notes that the last two developments “mean all major pharmacy claims and payment systems are back up and functioning,” dentists should note that Change Healthcare’s electronic payments are not expected to resume until March 15.

DHCS recommends actions for Medi-Cal providers

The Department of Health Care Services’ in a March Provider Bulletin addresses the impact of the Change Healthcare outage on Medi-Cal Dental providers, particularly related to the disruption of electronic notifications and the temporary reliance on paper notifications.

Medi-Cal Dental providers who use Change Healthcare for their clearinghouse should read the bulletin for directions on submitting documents for processing.

Video: Expert cites actions dentists should take

In a video interview with DrBicuspid, insurance expert Teresa Duncan urges dental practices that use services tied to Change Healthcare to:

  • Keep track of their claims.
  • Do one of the following: Change over to another clearinghouse, (2) print their claims and mail them via snail mail or (3) hold their claims and wait for the situation to resolve.
  • Understand that mailing claims may not be an option if the claims require electronic attachments.
  • Contact their IT companies to ensure no attacks on the practice systems have occurred.
  • Check eligibility and benefits through the online portals of their dental benefit plans.
  • Follow status updates on specific products and services at https://status.changehealthcare.com/.

Watch the 15-minute video interview “What dental practices need to know about the Change Healthcare cyberattack.”

See cyberattack response FAQ and updates on claims and payment options from United Healthcare.

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