Banned collections firm signs on with another hospital

Although it's banned for doing business in Minnesota for the next two years, Chicago-based Accretive Health just signed a new billion-dollar contract with a health system in Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Accretive on Monday entered into a five-year agreement worth up to $1.7 billion with St. Louis-based Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic hospital system, according to a document filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

However, Ascension can break the contract if Accretive's billing services hurt the hospital system's brand, reputation or operations, Accretive told the SEC.

"Our billing and collection policies and practices reflect our commitment to and respect for individual human dignity and treating people with compassion," Ascension CEO Robert Henkel said in a statement, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Such a clause isn't surprising, given the hospital collection firm last week paid the Minnesota Attorney General $2.5 million to settle claims of aggressive patient debt collection tactics at Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services.

The new contract builds upon existing financial ties between the collection firm and the hospital system, as Ascension-affiliated hospitals represent a large part of Accretive's revenue. For the first half of this year, 32.6 percent of Accretive's total net services revenue came from Ascension hospitals, according to the SEC filing.

For more:
- read the Post-Dispatch article
- here's the SEC filing