White House meets with UnitedHealth CEO over hack

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of the UnitedHealth Group appears on the side of one of their office buildings in Santa Ana, California

(Reuters) -White House officials met with UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty and others in the industry on Tuesday to discuss a hack at the healthcare conglomerate's tech unit that has disrupted operations across the United States.

The meeting was the first to bring together providers such as hospitals and payers such as health insurers, said a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adding that daily individual meetings have been held with all involved parties since the hack.

UnitedHealth did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Health insurance plans are working to support providers by enabling them to resume submitting claims and receiving payments following the cyberattack, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry group representing insurers, said on Tuesday.

Health plans have also put alternative payment processes in place, according to AHIP CEO Mike Tuffin.

The cyberattack on UnitedHealth's tech unit Change Healthcare late last month, perpetrated by hackers who identified themselves as the "Blackcat" ransomware group, has had a knock-on effect on players across the U.S. healthcare system.

The unit acts as a financial clearing house for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). PBMs help employers and health plans create lists of medications covered by insurance plans and reimburse pharmacies for patients' prescriptions.

Change Healthcare processes about 50% of medical claims in the U.S. for around 900,000 physicians, 33,000 pharmacies, 5,500 hospitals and 600 laboratories.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and HHS in an open letter on Sunday had asked UnitedHealth to expedite payments to healthcare providers.

The Washington Post first reported that White House officials urged UnitedHealth to make more emergency funding available to healthcare providers affected by the hack.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra and Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru, Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar, Devika Syamnath and Shounak Dasgupta)