CMS to Conclude CHOPD Payments: A Response to the Change Healthcare Cyberattack

CMS to Conclude CHOPD Payments: A Response to the Change Healthcare Cyberattack

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that payments under the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program for the Change Healthcare/Optum Payment Disruption (CHOPD) will conclude on July 12.

These payments, launched in early March, were designed to mitigate cash-flow disruptions faced by Medicare providers and suppliers, including hospitals, physicians, and pharmacists, following the unprecedented cyberattack on Change Healthcare in February.

“In the face of one of the most widespread cyberattacks on the U.S. health care industry, CMS promptly took action to get providers and suppliers access to the funds they needed to continue providing patients with vital care,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “Our efforts helped minimize the disruptive fallout from this incident, and we will remain vigilant to be ready to address future events.”

The cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a critical entity for electronic data interchange in healthcare, caused significant operational disruptions. Recognizing the potential impact on patient care, CMS swiftly implemented the CHOPD accelerated and advance payments to ensure that providers could maintain operations.

Since its inception, the CHOPD program has provided substantial financial support to providers. Over 4,200 Part A providers, such as hospitals, received accelerated payments totaling more than $2.55 billion. Additionally, CMS issued 4,722 advance payments, totaling more than $717.18 million, to Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers.

The accelerated and advance payments have been critical in helping providers navigate the financial strain caused by the cyberattack. As of now, CMS has successfully recovered over 96 percent of the CHOPD payments, indicating that providers and suppliers are back to billing Medicare effectively.

After July 12, CMS will no longer accept new applications for CHOPD accelerated or advance payments. Providers and suppliers experiencing difficulties in billing or receiving payments are encouraged to contact Change Healthcare, owned by UnitedHealth Group, or their Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), for assistance. Contact information for MACs can be found on the CMS website.

To find more information or to apply for the CHOPD program before the deadline, eligible providers and suppliers should visit https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/ns/changehealthcare.html. It is crucial for those affected to take action promptly to ensure financial stability during the recovery period.

CMS will continue to monitor the effects of the cyberattack on Medicare providers and suppliers. They remain committed to engaging with industry partners to address any residual issues or concerns. The agency’s proactive approach highlights the importance of cybersecurity in protecting the healthcare ecosystem.

In light of these recent events, CMS is urging all providers, suppliers, technology vendors, and other stakeholders to enhance their cybersecurity measures. The Health and Public Health (HPH) Cyber Performance Goals website offers detailed guidelines on how to improve cybersecurity protocols and protect against future threats.

For more information, visit the HPH Cyber Performance Goals web page at https://hphcyber.hhs.gov/performance-goals.html.

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Timothy Powell, CPA, CHCP

Timothy Powell is a nationally recognized expert on regulatory matters, including the False Claims Act, Zone Program Integrity Contractor (ZPIC) audits, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) compliance. He is a member of the RACmonitor editorial board and a national correspondent for Monitor Mondays.

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