Facing Scrutiny over Tactics, Medical Debt Collector Accretive Health Seeks Dismissal of Minnesota Lawsuit

Facing Scrutiny over Tactics, Medical Debt Collector Accretive Health Seeks Dismissal of Minnesota LawsuitAccretive Health, the medical debt collector under scrutiny for its heavy handed tactics, has asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Minnesota State Attorney General that accuses the company of breaking privacy laws. A motion filed by Accretive’s attorneys in Minnesota federal court called some of the charges included in the lawsuit “factually baseless and legally indefensible.”

As we reported previously, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed suit against Accretive Health in January, after laptop containing information on more than 23,000 patients was stolen from the company. According to a report from Bloomberg, the lawsuit challenged Accretive’s work with Minnesota-based Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Health Care. Fairview has since ended its contract with Accretive.

Earlier this week, Swanson also issued a report which purported to reveal some of the tactics Accretive uses to collect debt and payments on behalf of its client hospitals. The report detailed how some hospitals have turned over front-line staffing — like patient registration and scheduling – to Accretive Health representatives. In some cases, these Accretive employees are indistinguishable from hospital employees, and do not reveal that they are in fact, debt collectors, the report said. It described how Accretive debt collectors approach patients in hospital emergency rooms or at their bedsides and demand that they pay outstanding bills or make point of service payments at that time. According to the report, the Accretive representatives “may discourage them (patients) from seeking emergency care at
all, even using scripts like those in collection boiler room.”

In seeking dismissal of the Minnesota lawsuit, Accretive’s motion asserted that Swanson had “ochestrated a nationwide media campaign against Accretive Health, giving numerous television and print interviews to trumpet her release of a so-called ‘compliance review.’” A statement issued by Accretive yesterday said the claims made in Swanson’s report “grossly distort and mis-characterize” Accretive’s revenue cycle services, and called the bedside collection claims a “flagrant distortion of fact.”

A spokesperson for Swanson’s office brushed off Accretive’s assertions, calling its motion for dismissal a “typical first step” for a corporate defendant.

“We’re very confident in the legal claims that are laid out in the complaint,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for August 4.

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