News and Headlines


Change Healthcare Disconnects Systems Amid Cyberattack

Change Healthcare, part of Optum, has disconnected its systems to prevent further impact as a result of an ongoing cybersecurity issue. Change Healthcare is experiencing a network interruption due to a cyberattack, the company stated in a notice on its website. Change Healthcare is part of health tech company Optum, which is owned by healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group as of 2022. Through its platform, Change processes patient payments for healthcare organizations across the country.

Additional reporting in the HIPAA Journal states that Change Healthcare provides prescription processing services through Optum which provides services to over 67,000 U.S. pharmacies and serves 129 million patients. Change Healthcare handles more than 15 billion healthcare transactions each year and says one in three patient records in the United States are touched by its clinical connectivity solutions. Change Healthcare is used by Tricare, the healthcare provider of the U.S. military, and all military pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals have been affected by the disruption caused by the Change Healthcare cyberattack, and retail pharmacies across the country are experiencing delays processing prescriptions and have been unable to send orders through insurance plans.

In a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday, UnitedHealth confirmed that confirming that Change Healthcare had experienced a cyberattack that affected dozens of systems. At this stage of the incident response, it is too early to tell if any patient data has been exposed or stolen in the attack and neither UnitedHealth nor Change Healthcare could provide a timeline on when systems will be brought back online.


Ohio’s March Primary Highlights Fracturing House and State Races Riddled with Party Infighting

Despite wielding power in both chambers of the state Legislature, Ohio’s Republican lawmakers are far from coasting through this election season as incumbents face challengers from their own party in the midst of a bitter GOP power struggle. Next month’s primary will likely be used to further wage the infighting that’s been steady in the state House since 2023, when a contentious House speaker race split the lower chamber’s Republicans. Even though GOP lawmakers hold supermajorities in both chambers, the Legislature succeeded in setting a record last year for the lowest number of bills passed since the 1950s. Democrats are deciding a few contested primaries themselves, but even newly drawn Statehouse maps backed by both parties make it all but impossible for them to gain the majority in 2024. All 99 seats in the Ohio House are up for grabs this year, as are 16 of the 33 seats in the Senate.


Regulators Eye Deadline to License Recreational Marijuana Businesses.

State regulators are considering rules that would slash fees for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and pave the way to license recreational marijuana dispensaries as soon as September.

A new package of rules meant to ready Ohio for recreational marijuana includes provisions scrapping the fee for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and setting a Sept. 7 deadline to grant provisional adult-use cannabis licenses to dispensaries, cultivators, processors and testing laboratories. If adopted, the rules could potentially eliminate a barrier for medical users as the state’s recreational program gets started and put a firmer timeline on standing up the state’s recreational program. But it doesn’t necessarily mean recreational sales would be imminent – and state lawmakers still could throw the plan a curveball if both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly can agree on changes to the law voters approved in November legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.


SUD Providers Using Bundled-Payment Approach to Leverage Peer Support Models

Certified peer support specialists are quickly becoming an essential part of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment in the United States.

Having gone through the recovery process successfully, peer support workers are driven to help others facing similar hardships in their lives. Addiction rehabilitation centers are now relying more on that connection and experience to create effective programs. Hiring peer support specialists and fostering an effective integration requires collaboration and mutual respect.

To ensure the peer-first approach endures, organizations must find ways to pay for the services. Funding can come in various forms. Many states reimburse organizations for peer support for substance use disorders, and commercial payers are also covering peer support services more often.


VA Health Care: Opportunities Exist to Further Meet Student Veterans' Mental Health Needs

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) data showed that the percentage of student veterans who received mental health care at VA facilities increased from fiscal years 2017 through 2022, and at a higher rate than that of the total veteran population. VA data show student veterans were primarily treated for depression-related disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety-related disorders. VA officials said younger veterans typically seek mental health care more than older veterans, and most student veterans are younger than age 34. The VA administers a program to support the mental health needs of student veterans. Under this voluntary program, VA health care systems can partner with local colleges and universities to provide campus-based mental health support to student veterans. However, GAO found VA does not communicate comprehensive information to its health care systems to help them consider when and how to implement programs, such as the types of staffing needed. Instead, VA communicates information about the program upon request. By more regularly communicating comprehensive information across its health care systems, the VA could help ensure its systems all have the information they need to consider participating in the program. This, in turn, would help ensure VA's ability to support the mental health needs of its student veteran population.

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