Case Management

News: Settlement bans Accretive Health in Minnesota

Case Management Weekly, October 3, 2012

Accretive Health, Inc., must cease operations in Minnesota and pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging violation of state and federal privacy laws and state debt collection laws filed by state Attorney General Lori Swanson. 

The settlement, which is pending court approval, also prohibits Accretive, a Chicago debt collector, from entering the state for six years without agreement of the attorney general, according to a press release from Swanson’s office. Accretive, which managed the revenue operations of several Minnesota hospitals, will be subject to an outright ban on operating in Minnesota for two years effective November 1. During the next four years, it may enter the state only if the attorney general agrees to a consent order regarding its business practices in the state.

 The attorney general’s office began investigating Accretive for potential privacy violations after a laptop computer containing information about 23,000 patients was stolen from an employee’s rental car. The investigation expanded when the attorney general’s office learned that Accretive was engaged in debt collection from patients. The suit filed in U.S. District Court alleged that Accretive was responsible for aggressive collection practices in hospital emergency departments and that it managed hospital employees engaged in patient registration and collections. 

Approximately 60 patients provided sworn affidavits. Many said payment was requested before treatment in the emergency department, often while lying on a gurney, undressed, in pain, connected to tubes, or receiving morphine. Most patients had insurance. The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act requires hospitals to examine a patient, and if an emergency exists, treat and stabilize the patient before requesting payment. 

The $2.5 million payment will be part of a restitution fund used to compensate patients. Accretive also must return all Minnesota patient data to its client hospitals. This is subject to confirmation by an independent auditor.

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