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Large-Scale Cyberattacks Disrupt Essential Substance Use and Mental Health Services

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing and the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers released the following joint statement about recent cyberattacks affecting the health care industry:

“The February 21 cyberattack that paralyzed the nation’s largest billing and payment system must serve as a warning to organizations throughout the health care continuum that everyone is a target. While national attention has largely focused on the impact of the attack on hospitals and physical health providers, it is important to highlight the equally devastating effects that the ransomware attacks have had on substance use and mental health providers across the country.

“In the midst of an overdose crisis and an increased demand for mental health treatment, this disruption in vital services has left patients vulnerable to crisis, with behavioral health providers unable to obtain insurance approval or payment for their services.

“While the US Department of Health and Human Services has asked insurers to waive prior authorizations and Medicare contractors to accept paper bills, the extensive disruption to patient care underscores the critical need for enhanced cybersecurity measures to safeguard health care data and systems.

“The National Council for Mental Wellbeing and the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers join together to highlight the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures. These measures are essential to safeguarding the ability of our members to deliver lifesaving substance use and mental health treatment to some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients.”

If affected by the Cyberattack on Change Healthcare:

• Read the HHS Statement and Guidance, March 5, 2024.

• Contact your EHR vendor to learn more about real time transitions to alternative payment clearinghouses to begin the processing of backlogged claims.

• If submitting paper claims, ensure confirmation of payor contact information before sending to ensure the correct numbers and addresses are being used for payors that have traditionally processed electronically.

Source: National Council for Mental Wellbeing