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Cyberattack on Nebraska hospitals could lead to longer wait times, delays in claims

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Cyberattack on Nebraska hospitals could lead to longer wait times, delays in claims

Feb 28, 2024 | 1:35 pm ET
By Zach Wendling
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Cyberattack on Nebraska hospitals could lead to longer wait times, delays in claims
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Jeremy Nordquist, center, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association, leads a news conference. Jan. 30, 2023. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — Most Nebraska hospitals are facing a disruption to their systems and services in light of a cyberattack last week on one of the nation’s largest health care technology companies.

The Nebraska Hospital Association said Wednesday the Feb. 21 cyberattack is affecting a majority of hospitals in the state that use the technology company Change Health for financial and clinical authorization services.

“Due to this incident, Nebraskans may experience longer wait times regarding authorizations for procedures, as well as delays in resolution of claims,” Jeremy Nordquist, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association, said in a statement. “Our hospitals ask Nebraskans to be understanding as we work through these challenges.”

Affected hospital procedures include:

  • Prior authorizations for pharmaceuticals, procedures and surgeries.
  • Insurance verification for inpatient stays.
  • Precise cost estimates for patients.
  • Patient billing.

“Our hospitals are doing their best to manage through these challenges as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Nordquist added.

The American Hospital Association is in contact with the FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency about the attack.

The hospital associations are also asking the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to help hospitals and health systems minimize fallout through immediate federal regulatory flexibility and financial support as the disruption persists.

State Sen. Loren Lippincott of Central City, through Legislative Bill 1302, is seeking $11 million in annual appropriations designed to bolster the state’s network and create new cybersecurity preparedness training. At a hearing on the bill, Lippincott noted a series of cyberattacks on Nebraska state agencies, cities and health systems. The bill has not advanced from committee.

The frequency and sophistication of high impact ransomware attacks targeted at hospitals or health systems has increased significantly in the last two years, the Nebraska Hospital Association said.