Minnesota probes hospital bill tactics

April 24, 2012 at 7:41 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 24 (UPI) -- A Minnesota healthcare provider says it has dropped a revenue management consultant following allegations of overly aggressive bill collection efforts.

Fairview Health Services cut its ties with Illinois-based Accretive Health Inc. after an investigation by the state attorney general found Accretive allegedly imposed "boiler-room-style sales atmospheres'' at Fairview's seven hospitals that imposed quotas on hospital personnel to collect money before treatment was sometimes provided, even in the emergency room, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Tuesday.

A probe by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson discovered scripts written by Accretive management patient registration personnel were supposed to follow for each and every patient allegedly to get them to pay their deductibles and co-pays up front by cash or through their credit cards before they were even seen by even treated.

"The Accretive culture has converted the hospital culture from that of a charitable organization to that of a collection agency,'' the report said. "Perhaps the most damaging act by Accretive was to undermine the basic premise that a hospital is a sanctuary to treat the sick and infirm.''

Swanson's office began to investigate the relationship between Fairview and Accretive July 25 after Accretive lost a laptop computer containing the medical data of 23,000 patients of Fairview and North Memorial Health Care, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported.

Swanson said Accretive Health violated federal and state laws concerning medical record privacy by not better securing the data in their care. She also questioned the necessity for Accretive to have access to sensitive information to patients' more personal medical information such as whether they had HIV, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, the Pioneer Press said.

A Fairview spokesman said the company was preparing a comment.

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