Hospital collection firm faces more claims of harsh practices

While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to investigate whether the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview violated federal law with its harsh billing and collection practices, the hospital's former debt-collector is facing 10 more patient claims in the lawsuit from the Minnesota Attorney General, reported the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

State Attorney General Lori Swanson is urging that her initial complaint against Chicago-based Accretive Health proceed, filing a memorandum of law last month, in which patients describe aggressive debt collection at Fairview.

"Accretive prepared a document called the 'Accretive Secret Sauce,' or ASS,' touting: 'You've never seen ASS like ours! and 'Check out our ASS!'" the memorandum states. According to Swanson, that "secret sauce" involves bedside collection visits for ER patients at any Accretive hospital.

However, Accretive last week asked the federal district court in Minnesota to dismiss the Attorney General's second amended complaint. The hospital collection firm said Swanson's claims failed to identify how Accretive violated particular HIPAA provisions.

To curtail abusive patient debt collections, the U.S. Treasury Department last month proposed rules, which would be developed under health reform, that would give patients at least four months to obtain financial assistance before medical debt could be turned over to a collections agency or litigated, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Pioneer Press article
- check out the AG memorandum of law (.pdf)
- here's Accretive's motion to dismiss (.pdf)