Photo credit: diego_cervo/Getty Images

The federal government has taken another step to support long-term care providers struggling with delayed payments following the recent cyberattack on vital billing clearinghouse Change Healthcare. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services released a list of national payer contact information, links to resources and information on advanced payments Monday. The aim is to give providers consolidated access to the resources they need to navigate the still-ongoing effects of the cyberattack, officials said. 

Long-term care leaders expressed support and gratitude for the new resource Wednesday.

“The list provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will save invaluable time for our providers by identifying resources and contact information for some of the largest plans around the country,” Nicole Fallon, vice president of integrated services and managed care at LeadingAge told McKnight’s

Fallon noted that the list, though extensive, does not include all local and regional plans. Providers should be sure to also contact these smaller plans when necessary, she noted. 

Previous steps to help providers include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announcing earlier this month that it would be accepting applications for accelerated and advanced Medicare payments. 

Still more needed, operators say

But sector leaders are still calling for more to be done to address the crisis.

“In a recent poll of LeadingAge members who attended our March 21 Town Hall on this topic, we found that just 9% of these organizations had applied for funding assistance and 42% of attendees are currently only able to submit less than 50% of their claims due to the cyberattack,” Fallon said. “Some members report that their financial situation is dire with only 30-90 days cash on hand. It is these providers who are likely smaller and have few reserves that need help now. We need to get the interim funding to providers faster.”

And it’s not just smaller and nonprofit providers that are feeling the heat, according to Martin Allen, senior vice president of reimbursement policy at the American Health Care Association. 

He expressed appreciation for the new HHS resource, but also stressed the importance of maintaining financial support for facilities downwind of the cyberattack.

“We encourage HHS and CMS to continue to push all plans to make accelerated payments available to providers until all affected claims delayed by this outage have been adjudicated and the claims processing systems are restored,” he told McKnight’s Wednesday. “Providers are dependent upon these financial resources to keep their doors open and ensure access to quality care for those who need it.”

Change has begun to bring its systems back online, but the effects of the Feb. 21 cyberattack seem poised to be a thorn in providers’ side for months.