Saturday, August 4, 2012

Accretive, Firm That Tried to Collect Hospital Bills While Patients Were Being Treated in the Emergency Room to Pay $2.5 million Fine; And Not Work in Minnesota for Two Years

But Admits No Wrongdoing- They Just Love to Pay Million Dollar Fines for the Fun of It

Because Federal law requires that hospitals treat patients when they are admitted to emergency rooms regardless of their ability to pay, hospitals have engaged private debt collection firms to try to recover some of the money owed for these services.  One of the most aggressive of these companies worked in several Minnesota hospitals and did a lot of bad things, like this.

Ms. Swanson - Doing What
She Should be Doing
In April, Lori Swanson, the Minnesota attorney general, disclosed hundreds of Accretive’s internal documents thatoutlined aggressive collection tactics, including embedding debt collectors as employees in emergency rooms and pressuring patients to pay before receiving treatment.

“A hospital emergency room should be a sanctuary for the sick and wounded, not a hunting ground for collectors,” Ms. Swanson said in an interview Monday.

The company, Accretive, which does this sort of thing all over the country has now settled with the state of Minnesota.

Accretive Health, one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical debt, has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the Minnesota state attorney general’s office to settle accusations that it violated a federal law requiring hospitals to provide emergency care, even if patients cannot afford to pay. .  .  .  .

As part of Monday’s settlement, Accretive Health is also banned from contracting with hospitals within the state for at least two years, effectively ending its business at three Minnesota hospitals. For four years after that, the company will have to obtain permission from the attorney general before resuming business in the state.

But of course the company thinks they did nothing wrong, and admits to doing nothing wrong.

“Even though we believe the claims against us were either baseless or exaggerated, we have used this opportunity to carefully examine our own practices in order to ensure we are setting the very highest standards for our own performance and achieving the best possible outcomes for hospitals, patients and communities,” Mary Tolan, Accretive Health’s chief executive, said in a statement.

And so Accretive will go on doing what they have been doing until the next courageous Attorney General or regulator steps in and stops them, again.

As for the problem that caused all of this, uninsured patients who need emergency room care and cannot pay, well maybe someone ought to do something about that.

Oh right, someone did.  Good try Mr. Obama, better luck next time.

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