Sleazy medical bill collector to pay $2.5 million settlement in Minnesota – what are other states doing about these thugs?

Accretive Health, one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical debt, has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the Minnesota state attorney general’s office to settle accusations that it violated a federal law requiring hospitals to provide emergency care, even if patients cannot afford to pay…

As part of Monday’s settlement, Accretive Health is also barred from contracting with hospitals within the state for at least two years, effectively ending its business at three Minnesota hospitals. For four years after that, the company will have to obtain permission from the attorney general before resuming business in the state.

In April, Lori Swanson, the Minnesota attorney general, disclosed hundreds of Accretive’s internal documents that outlined aggressive collection tactics, including embedding debt collectors in emergency rooms and pressuring patients to pay before receiving treatment…

In an interview Monday, Ms. Swanson said “a hospital emergency room should be a sanctuary for the sick and wounded, not a hunting ground for collectors.” The settlement will end a civil suit against Accretive, which Ms. Swanson filed in January after a laptop with patient information was stolen, saying that the company had violated state and federal debt collection laws and patient privacy protections…

The revelations in Minnesota have reverberated across the country because they raise concerns that such aggressive tactics have become widespread at hospitals. Accretive Health contracts with some of the largest hospital systems in the country to help them recoup money on unpaid bills that have piled up during the financial crisis and the economic downturn…

Hospitals have long hired outside collection agencies to pursue patients after they have received care. But mounting financial pressures have resulted in hospitals letting collection firms in the front door, turning over the management of their staffing, like patient registration and scheduling, along with their collection activities, according to Ms. Swanson…

Corrupt administrators of hospital systems have been turning over private records to Accretive to aid them in harassing patients. They are at least as slimy as the rest of the hustlers leading the parade of greedy healthcare providers.

RTFA for anecdotal tales of people lying bleeding in a hospital’s emergency room – instead of a caring nurse or doctor standing by their side, they found themselves questioned by an extortion specialist trying to pry their last dollar from their wallet or purse before allowng medical care. The ultimate Republican healthcare portable death panel.

These gangsters operate in nationwide hospital chains, attacking patients in almost every state. Where is the protection guaranteed by federal law? Why aren’t the state’s attorney generals protecting civil rights?

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