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Health insurance giant roiled by cyberattack sets up loan program for cash-strapped health providers

CNN  —  Change Healthcare, the health insurance IT giant disrupted for days by a cyberattack, on Friday announced plans for a temporary loan program to get money flowing to health care providers affected by the outage. It’s a stop-gap measure meant to give some financial relief to health care providers, which analysts say are losing millions of dollars per day because of the outage. Some US officials and health care executives told CNN it may be weeks before Change Healthcare returns to normal operations. The temporary loan program will help health care providers with “short-term cash flow needs,” Change Healthcare said in a statement. “Once standard payment operations resume, the funds will simply need to be repaid,” the company said. Change Healthcare has been under pressure from senior US officials to get their systems back online. Officials from the White House and multiple federal agencies, including the department of Health and Human Services, have been concerned by the broad financial and health impact of the hack and have been pressing for ways to get Change Healthcare back online, sources told CNN. Senior US officials have also been looking for contingency plans to support Change Healthcare should the company be unable to get health care payments flowing in a timely manner, a US official familiar with the matter told CNN. A unit of healthcare conglomerate UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare processes prescriptions to insurance for tens of thousands of pharmacies nationwide. The impact from the hack has been wide-ranging across multiple states. A psychotherapist in Maryland told CNN she was worried she would lose her business because of the outage, while a social worker in Michigan told CNN that she paid $1,600 for Paxlovid, the coronavirus-mitigating drug, because the pharmacy couldn’t process her insurance. The president of the American Hospital Association, a health industry group, has called the cyberattack “the most serious incident of its kind leveled against a US health care organization.” Carter Groome, chief executive of First Health Advisory, a cybersecurity firm, previously told CNN that some health care providers are losing more than $100 million per day because of the outage. In a message on its website Friday afternoon, Change Healthcare also said that it was launching a new version of its online prescribing service following the cyberattack. Change Healthcare has blamed the hack on a notorious ransomware gang known as ALPHV or BlackCat that the Justice Department says has been responsible for ransomware attacks on victims around the world.