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Accretive Health Banned from Minnesota Under Settlement

Jul 31, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

A Minnesota hospital system’s bill collection firm, Accretive Health, must stop doing business in that state and pay a $2.5 million fine as part of a settlement on a lawsuit that claimed it was conducting abusive and intimidating collection practices on patients staying at those facilities.

Accretive Health served as the bill collector for Fairview Health Service, which operates several hospitals in Minnesota and other states. A lawsuit filed against Accretive by Minnesota’s Attorney General Lori Swanson accused the bill collector of abusive and intimidating business practices, including having its employees pose as hospital employees and encounter patients about past-due balances before they received care. In addition, Accrective was accused in the lawsuit of security and privacy breaches with its customers.

According to a report from Minnesota Public Radio, Accretive has agreed to make several concessions as part of a settlement that will stop a criminal investigation against the company. Chief among them is the order that Accretive cease doing business in Minnesota altogether. The company must wrap-up operations by November and is barred from doing business there for at least six years.

Accretive must also pay $2.5 million to a fund that will seek to provide restitution to some customers. The remainder of the money will go to Minnesota’s state Treasury. The company must also surrender all data is has collected on Minnesota patients.

At a press conference announcing the settlement, AG Swanson said, “A hospital emergency room is a high-stress place of trauma, of suffering. It should be a solemn place, not a place to shakedown patients for money. It's good to close the door for Minnesota on this really disturbing chapter in our health care history.”

The two sides of this legal battle have been at loggerheads the entire time since Swanson filed her lawsuit in January. Accretive responded to the settlement terms by saying it was not interested in doing business in a state that was governed by an Attorney General that was not straight-forward in her discussions.

Swanson dismissed those comments and added to the pile of accusations against Accretive, saying the company allowed private information on more than 23,000 Minnesotans to be stolen in a company’s rental car. The car was unlocked in a hospital parking lot and the laptop containing the personal information went missing. 

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