WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – On Capitol Hill, senators held a hearing about cyber security threats that hospitals and health care groups face, which can impact both the care and personal information of patients.
Cyber-attacks on hospitals and health care groups are becoming more frequent and dangerous because they disrupt the use of critical equipment.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) pointed out an “infant tragically passed away because of delayed medical care.”
California Senator Alex Padilla says bad actors don’t just get a payoff from ransomware attacks; they also benefit from selling patient information on the black market.
Stirling Martin of Epic Systems, says health information “isn’t something that can be reset or changed, like a password or credit card number.”
At Thursday’s hearing, Senator Josh Hawley highlighted why rural providers are especially vulnerable, which Kate Pierce of Fortified Health Security added, “most of them have no staff that are directly assigned to cyber.”
Experts told lawmakers more government funding is needed to help those rural health care providers and should include grants and incentives to beef up cyber security and staffing.
Pierce says the government must also pass new regulations and “move from guidance and recommendations to minimum standards.”
Senator Peters says he’s pushing for a bill with that goal “to require these organizations to report cyber-attacks and ransomware payments.”
Peters says the proposal already has bipartisan support.