Dangerous Ransomware Group Is Targeting Health Care, HHS Warns

Farma Darya

Also: Health and Human Services Department data on health care consolidation; five ways CMS’ proposed hospital rule could impact patient safety; Humana is planning to sell its hospice business; Texas omitted a key group when issuing pay support for health workers; and more.

Modern Healthcare:
HHS Warns Of ‘Exceptionally Aggressive’ Ransomware Threat

A cybersecurity center at the Health and Human Services Department is warning healthcare and public health organizations to guard against an “exceptionally aggressive” ransomware group that encrypts and steals data from its victims. “Hive is an exceptionally aggressive, financially-motivated ransomware group known to maintain sophisticated capabilities who have historically targeted healthcare organizations frequently,” according to an analyst note published this week by the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center, a center in HHS’ Office of Information Security. (Kim Cohen, 4/20)

In other news from the federal government —

Modern Healthcare:
Feds Release First-Of-Its-Kind Data On Healthcare Consolidation

The Health and Human Services Department released its first quarterly tranche of hospital and nursing home merger and acquisition transaction data, which marks a major step forward in the government’s effort to track the impact of consolidation across the industry, policy experts said. Hospitals with the lowest profit margins were sold more than twice as often as those with the highest profit margins, according to the analysis of 347 hospital transactions from 2016 to 2021. Long-term care hospitals changed ownership at substantially higher rates than other hospitals and more hospital transactions occurred in the South, where many for-profit chains are based. (Kacik, 4/20)

Modern Healthcare:
5 Ways CMS’ Proposed Hospital Rule Could Affect Patient Safety And Quality

Through its proposed Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is building on administration-level priorities to better assess disparities in healthcare quality and improve patient outcomes. The recommended rule, released on Monday, discusses potential increases to inpatient hospital payments and cuts to Medicare disproportionate share hospital payments, as well as how certain reporting requirements were affected by the pandemic. (Devereaux, 4/20)

And more developments from the health care industry —

Humana Said In Advanced Talks To Sell Hospice Business To CD&R

Humana Inc. is in advanced talks to sell an arm of Kindred at Home to private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice in a deal that would value the business at about $3 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter. A deal between the health insurer and CD&R for the hospice, palliative and personal care business could be announced within days, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Humana plans to retain a stake in the business, the people said. (Davis, 4/21)

Houston Chronicle:
Texas Got Millions To Boost Pay For Strapped Health Care Attendants. It Left Out The Largest Group

Like many states, Texas is struggling to attract and retain home health workers to care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a crisis that has swelled amid the pandemic and after years of low wages. So when state health officials announced last summer that they planned to use federal pandemic money for one-time bonuses, it seemed like relief was on the horizon for a few hundred thousand beleaguered employees. But even that small gesture is now in question, as the Health and Human Services Commission omitted the largest single group of health attendants, who serve about 130,000 low-income Texans. (Blackman, 4/21)

Crain’s New York Business:
Mount Sinai Accused By Top Academic Leader Of Unlawful Retaliation

An academic leader at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai claims that it slashed her salary by six figures after she expressed concerns about discrimination within the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan federal court. Dr. Ann Marie Beddoe, director of the medical school’s Division of Global Women’s Health and an associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science, is accusing Mount Sinai and the Icahn School of unlawful retaliation after she opposed the hiring of Dr. Prabhjot Singh as director of the Arnhold Institute and flagged concerns about his treatment of women. (Kaufman, 4/20)

Detroit Free Press:
Candida Auris Outbreak Reported At DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital In Detroit

A  36-bed specialty recovery hospital that operates on the seventh floor of DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit is no longer admitting new patients because of an outbreak of a drug-resistant, highly contagious and often deadly fungal infection called Candida auris. Select Specialty Hospital – Northwest Detroit is voluntarily pausing admission of new patients as it works with the state health department and the city of Detroit’s health department to address the outbreak. Fifteen cases of Candida auris have been detected in Michigan since 2021 — seven of which have been identified in the last five weeks in patients at Select Specialty Hospital – Northwest Detroit. Prior to 2021, there had been no known cases of C. auris in Michigan in at least five years. (Jordan Shamus, 4/20)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

Dangerous Ransomware Group Is Targeting Health Care, HHS Warns

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