Regulators: Billing practices at Fairview violated federal patient-protection laws

The aggressive practices used by the Chicago-based Accrective Health to collect debt from patients could put Fairview's University of Minnesota Medical Center at risk of being terminated from Medicare and Medicaid, according to the Star Tribune. Federal documents obtained by the newspaper show patients and their relatives were subjected to "abuse and harassment'' from debt collectors while waiting for treatment.
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The aggressive practices used by the Chicago-based Accrective Health to collect debt from patients could put Fairview's University of Minnesota Medical Center at risk of being terminated from Medicare and Medicaid, according to the Star Tribune.

A state official indicates that won't likely happen because Fairview Health Services is working on corrective measures to avoid the ultimate penalty.

Federal documents obtained by the newspaper show patients and their relatives were subjected to "abuse and harassment'' from debt collectors while waiting for treatment.

Accretive denied any wrongdoing at the Minneapolis-based hospital, but in July it ended a legal feud with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. The consulting firm agreed not to conduct business in the state for at least two years and would pay $2.5 million to Minnesota patients.

The controversial collection tactics prompted Fairview to terminate its contract with Accretive in April.

Fairview's board of directors also chose not to renew President and CEO Mark Eustis' contract. Board chairman Chuck Mooty took over as interim CEO last month.

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Fairview Health Services terminates contract with Accretive Health

The health care system felt it was necessary to cut its ties with the debt collector. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson accused Chicago-based Accretive of using high-pressure strategies to get Minnesota hospital patients to pay for their treatments. The Business Journal reports Fairview began reducing its contract with the collection firm after a laptop with unencrypted patient information was stolen. Meanwhile, a Democratic Congressman from California is now calling for a federal investigation.

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Minnesota's Attorney General released an investigative report Tuesday into Accretive Health Inc. It accuses the Chicago-based consultant, who was hired by Fairview Health System, of imposing collection quotas and pressuring hospital employees to collect money from patients before treatment.

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Executives from the medical debt collector will be in Washington, D.C. on Friday to address concerns about the companies practices. Last week, Minnesota Attorney General accused the Chicago-based firm of using aggressive collection tactics at Fairview Health Services. Accretive Health has denied any wrong doing.

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The Chicago-based consulting firm wants a federal judge to throw out a second amended complaint filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson after more patients came forward accusing the company of overly aggressive billing and collection tactics, the Pioneer Press reports. Accretive Health is accused of violating state and federal privacy laws, state debt collection laws and state consumer protection laws through its work with Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services.