Debt collector sees shares drop 40 percent after Minnesota A.G.'s report

Shares in Accretive Health plummeted after the company was accused of routinely pressuring patients to pre-pay for services. The debt collection agency is defending its work with hospitals in the wake of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's investigation.
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Shares in Accretive Health plummeted after the company was accused of routinely pressuring patients to pre-pay for services. The debt collection agency is defending its work with hospitals in the wake of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's investigation.

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Accretive Health says it's working with advisers on addressing the concerns about high-pressure tactics that Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson raised in her report last week. But the medical debt collection agency calls it a "flagrant distortion" to say the company solicited payments from patients in their hospital beds.

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Accretive Health asked a federal judge to toss out a breach of privacy lawsuit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. The suit involves the company's loss of a laptop computer containing data on more than 23,000 patients. It was filed before Swanson's report slamming Accretive for high-pressure debt collection tactics.

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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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Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has filed more court papers expanding on the state's lawsuit against Accretive Health Services. Two dozen affidavits from hospital patients say the collection agency pressured them for payment while they were awaiting treatments. The suit claims Accretive violated collection laws and patient privacy rights. The company says the lawsuit contains mischaracterizations and distortions.

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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.