President and Congress Search for Ways to Better Protect American’s Health Information

President and Congress Search for Ways to Better Protect American’s Health Information

Last February, it was discovered that Change Healthcare had been the victim of a cyberattack and that up to a third of Americans had their private health information exposed. While the full extent of the hack has yet to be determined, the breach is believed to be the largest healthcare hack in US history and has cost parent company UnitedHealth Group Inc. up to $1.6 billion in profits this year.

Change Healthcare processes pharmacy requests and insurance claims for over 340,000 physicians and 60,000 pharmacies. The hack resulted in some patients having to wait to have their prescriptions filled and healthcare providers having to wait for payments for the services they had provided.

Now, cyberattacks compromising the health information of millions of Americans are prompting Congress and the Biden administration to take action to better protect highly sensitive personal data that’s profitable for hackers.

Lawmakers and regulators have been scrambling in their response.

In May, Senate lawmakers grilled the CEO of UnitedHealth Group over the attack, pressing the embattled executive on why the company left so much health information vulnerable and what should be done to avoid a repeat. Shortly after, the White House said it was hospital standards to protect patient information better.

Senators on both sides of the aisle are considering legislation to better protect health information. They’ve also increased pressure on the Biden administration’s labor and health departments to play a greater role in preventing and responding to cyberattacks.

As part of its response to the situation, a Health and Human Services Department spokesperson said the agency is considering issuing new enforceable cybersecurity standards for the healthcare sector, a move that could face a backlash from hospitals, which believe the responsibility to fight the cyberattacks rests with the federal government.

TSCL believes it would be wise for all entities involved to work together to solve this serious situation instead of arguing about whose responsibility it is.