Change Healthcare Cyberattack Still Harming Independent Pharmacies, NCPA Says

Press Release

Attack must lead to strong reforms of massive middlemen

The Change Healthcare cyberattack led to significant business disruptions for pharmacies with few exceptions as a direct result of the vertically-integrated nature of UnitedHealth Group, the National Community Pharmacists Association said in statements for the record for two separate congressional hearings today that will feature testimony by UnitedHealth CEO Andrew Witty.

Independent pharmacies are still struggling daily with operational and financial disruptions months after the cyberattack, NCPA told members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in its comments. UnitedHealth Group has done the bare minimum to help pharmacy providers since the attack began, NCPA said, and despite requests for relief and flexibility, other pharmacy benefit manager-insurers are beginning to issue audits into prescriptions dispensed throughout it. This comes at a time when many pharmacies are already on the brink of closure and patient access to care is in jeopardy. 

Among other asks, NCPA is specifically urging Congress to direct plans and PBMs to pause audits, make pharmacies whole for dispensing medications to patients in good faith throughout the cyberattack, and prevent punitive payer/PBM actions based on disruptions in care or recordkeeping that resulted from the event.

“Too much of our health care system is being allowed to flow through gigantic corporate monsters like UnitedHealth; this unfortunate circumstance is proof-positive of that,” says NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA, ahead of the hearings. “This entity rakes in a tremendous amount of cash, yet it arbitrarily denies or slow-walks patient care, under-reimburses providers and otherwise makes it difficult to provide health care services, and fails to protect itself and its customers from a catastrophic cyberattack. These broad, debilitating disruptions reiterate independent pharmacy’s view that UnitedHealth Group should not have been allowed to acquire Change Healthcare in the first place and that Congress and other policymakers must finalize and enforce stronger laws to rein in these behemoths as swiftly as possible.”

For a timeline of events related to the Change Healthcare cyberattack from the perspective of independent pharmacy, click here. For examples of the attack’s effect on patients in North Carolina, click here.

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