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Attempted cyber-attack delays healthcare reimbursements in France

If you feel that you have been waiting longer than normal for your latest healthcare reimbursement, this might be due to attempts to hack La Poste.

Attempted cyber-attack delays healthcare reimbursements in France
Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

Since April 27th, French postal service company, La Poste, has temporarily suspended external access to its messaging service. This has impacted more than 20,000 health professionals who rely on the service to communicate reimbursements to Social Security.

Healthcare in France works on a reimbursement system – you pay the doctor or pharmacist upfront and then some or all of the cost is reimbursed directly into your bank account using your carte vitale health card.

Usually the reimbursement takes just a few days, but the suspension of the La Poste messaging service means that requests for reimbursement have not been getting through.

So far La Poste has not provided a date for full restoration of its services, although it says it hopes for a partial restoration by next week.

After noticing that cybercriminals were trying to access it, the organisation temporarily deactivated access to its external platforms, including for the tens of thousands of people who use @laposte.net e-mail address.

When trying to send electronic forms, healthcare workers are instead met with error messages. There is also a paper form which can be used instead, but the electronic version typically shortens the wait for reimbursements.

Patients who are waiting for reimbursements do not need to take any action, but should be aware that the reimbursement might take longer than normal.

La Poste has confirmed the problem, saying “this measure has been taken for security reasons” and that it will be “for an indefinite period.” They asked that users access their accounts by going directly through La Poste’s website or its downloadable application.

La Poste also says it is “aware of the particular difficulties encountered by health professionals” and assures users that they are prioritising the restoration of services for them specifically.

They hope to see a gradual restoration of services from next Monday, but full restoration will take several days.

So far, La Poste has not reported any successful hacks or data leaks to French data protection agency, CNIL.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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