Senator Chuck Schumer Visits Rome Health

 A Massive Cyberattack Against Change Healthcare Downed A Vital Network For Hospitals & Pharmacies – Including Rome Health And Many Across Upstate NY - Leaving Healthcare Providers Unable To Be Paid And Process Insurance Claims, Which If It Continues, Could Lead To Reductions In Patient Care

 Standing at Rome Health in the Mohawk Valley following the nationwide Change Healthcare cyberattack last week impacting healthcare providers across NY, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today said he is calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to get all hands on deck to help impacted New York hospitals – like Rome Health – recover from the impacts of this vicious ransomware attack. Schumer explained that right now NY healthcare providers are struggling to get paid, process insurance claims, and fill prescriptions, with some seeing millions lost every day as result of this breach. The senator said if this cash-flow interruption continues, ripping larger holes on already strained budgets, it could lead to serious financial consequences for our most vulnerable hospitals.

First, Schumer said it is imperative federal law enforcement must make this case a top priority, as it is a calculated attack on our nation’s critical healthcare system, and we must hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Second, Schumer is now pushing for CMS to use its authority under the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, which allows CMS to make payments to hospitals in advance of receiving claims from them, to alleviate the financial burden healthcare providers are facing from this terrible cyberattack to get the payments they need. Schumer said swift action from CMS can cut through the bureaucratic red tape to streamline claims so healthcare providers get the relief they need now.

“Hospitals are essential to quality patient care, but this latest vicious cyberattack has blocked many
healthcare providers and pharmacies from getting paid and processing insurance claims. If this continues it can lead to halted vendor payments, difficulty acquiring medical supplies and equipment, and possible reductions in care for some providers. The delay in payments is costing hospitals across Upstate NY millions for every single week this continues, and some people are even struggling to get prescriptions filled at their local pharmacy. That’s why I am calling on CMS to use its authority to cut through the red tape and provide accelerated and advanced payments to impacted healthcare providers just as they did during COVID. We need to give our hospitals the immediate relief they need so that they won’t be forced to reduce patient care,” said Senator Schumer. “We can’t let hackers risk the financial stability of healthcare providers and even critical care to patients across America. CMS must act now to help our hospitals. I will keep fighting to ensure patients across America continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve.” 

 “Multiple hospitals’ ability to make payroll is in jeopardy due to the ongoing impacts of this cyberattack. Providers need relief now and will need it for as long as this disruption continues,” said Bea Grause, RN, JD, president, Healthcare Association of New York State. “HANYS applauds Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s swift action to call on CMS to take steps to ensure patient access to care is stable during this evolving incident.”
 Schumer said that the Advanced and Accelerated Payment program was a core part of keeping hospitals afloat during COVID, with roughly $100 billion loaned to hospitals as they had to shut down all non-emergency services. He said the program is a key tool CMS can use to respond to hospital crises.

 In addition, Schumer said it is imperative the federal law enforcement hold perpetrators accountable for this vicious attack and he has also asked the FBI to make this case a top priority. Schumer explained that hackers are known to target vulnerable critical infrastructure like the health care system to maximize the damage caused by their cyberattacks. The senator explained when hospitals are unable to process claims, bill patients, and receive payments, their operations are severely impacted because they don’t have the revenue to operate at full capacity. Schumer said while healthcare providers are trying to figure out alternatives for how to get claims submitted or fill prescriptions, if federal action is not taken soon, the downed system could mean hospitals and healthcare providers will be unable to acquire necessary medications and supplies or pay vendors.
Already, in Oneida County alone, providers are facing serious financial consequences as a result of the cyberattack. Rome Health has estimated it is facing approximately $2.3 million per week in losses. Since the date of the cyberattack, Rome Health has been unable to process more than 3,200 claims totaling $13.4 million in charges, numbers that are growing daily. Bassett Healthcare Network, which provides care to Oneida County patients at its Health Center in Clinton, is facing millions of dollars in weekly losses at its facilities across the Mohawk Valley and Central New York.

The cyberattack is impacting key healthcare institutions across all corners of Central New York, including Auburn Community Hospital in Cayuga County, Oneida Health in Madison County and Oswego Health in Oswego County. At Auburn Community Hospital, cash flow is an immediate concern – the hospital is facing $2 million in weekly losses from Medicare and Medicaid alone, constituting over 50% of cash receipts. Starting this week, Oswego Health will see a 25% reduction in weekly cash flow, which could increase to as much as 70% and millions in cumulative losses before the end of the month. Oneida Health is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in weekly losses, and officials report total weekly losses could balloon into the millions if the situation persists.
 “Safeguarding the health of our residents and the citizens of this nation is imperative,” said Oneida
County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “When crucial institutions such as the healthcare industry are attacked by nefarious means, it is the job of the government to step up and protect its people. I applaud Senator Schumer for taking charge of this critical issue to ensure the continuum of care remains in place for all.” 
“Rural hospitals like Auburn Community Hospital have been severely impacted by this the Change
Healthcare cyberattack. The inability to bill has created financial challenges, as it hinders the hospital's ability to pay vendors and meet obligations to patients and the community. Even if the issue is resolved soon, there will still be a significant amount of time required to return to normal operations. It is crucial for the hospital to receive immediate relief in order to fulfill its commitments. That is why Auburn Community Hospital and our patients are fortunate that Majority Leader Schumer is leading the charge for advanced and accelerated payments to stabilize our healthcare community. I commend the Senator for his unwavering commitment to the well-being of patients in rural communities, and I am proud to stand alongside him here today,” said Scott Berlucchi President & CEO of Auburn Community Hospital.

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was relentless in his efforts to support hospitals through the COVID pandemic and once again he is taking the lead in this new crisis. We truly appreciate Senator Schumer’s advocacy and support to ensure that hospitals have the resources we need to take care of our patients following the Change Healthcare cyberattack that is disrupting patient care and hospital services nationwide,” said Rome Health President/Chief Executive Officer AnneMarie Czyz.  “Medicare is our largest source of our revenue, making it a financial imperative for Rome Health to receive timely payment of the approximately $721,000 a week we receive from Medicare.  The Senator’s advocacy for advance payments will help mitigate the disruption in our cash flow so we can pay our staff, buy essential medical supplies, and continue to provide the exceptional care Rome Health patients deserve.”

Schumer said unlocking these payments gets cash flowing immediately back to hospitals, ensuring
patient care is not jeopardized, which is why he’s calling on CMS to take all possible measures to provide relief to hospitals and healthcare providers who have been impacted by the Change Healthcare cyberattack have access to the quality healthcare they deserve.  

Schumer was a key architect of using the program during the height of the pandemic, which brought in billions across the country when they had to shut down all non-emergency lines of care. Schumer also led the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which secured historic investments in New York hospitals to provide the supplies, emergency response, testing, and public health workforce to stop the spread of COVID-19. In 2022, Schumer also secured a first-ever agreement from FEMA that creates a pathway for reimbursement on previously rejected expenses incurred by hospitals in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, unlocking hundreds of million for New York’s hospitals, which otherwise would have been shouldered by the hospitals amidst the ongoing public health emergency.

About Rome Health
Rome Health is a non-profit health care system based in Rome, N.Y., providing services to patients throughout Central New York.  From primary and specialty care to long-term care, Rome Health delivers quality, compassionate medical care for every stage of life.  We are a comprehensive health care system that connects you to the best clinicians and the latest technologies so they are easily accessible to you and your family.  Rome Health is an affiliate of St. Joseph’s Health and an affiliated clinical site of New York Medical College.