What is one nurse’s solution to the problem of medical debt and debt collection? Universal health coverage.
Medical debt collection is something hospitals have to do, but hiring third parties to do so leaves the potential for some blowback. Just ask Minnesota-based Fairview Health Services, whose reputation has taken a big hit in the Accretive Health debt collection scandal. Accretive Health is accused of unsavory practices such as approaching patients in the emergency room to collect outstanding payments, sometimes from patients who are in pain and in a vulnerable state. Fairview severed its relationship with Accretive after the alleged practices came to light.
On Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken held a hearing at the Minnesota State Capitol to not only question an Accretive Health executive about the company’s practices, but to try and elicit a response from other witnesses as to how hospitals can get paid for care rendered.
A former Fairview nurse had an unequivocal solution.
Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, said universal health coverage would be the solution because its absence is what “drives providers to this kind of disgraceful behavior,” — a reference to the tactics that Accretive Health employees used at Fairview.
In other words, if everyone was covered, the issue of where to get medical coverage and how to pay for medical care would not arise. And hospitals would not also have to worry about how to extract payment for the care rendered.
Franken responded that her point about universal health coverage would have to be taken up at a another hearing.
[Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos user digitalart]
CORRECTION: A previous version of the story incorrectly implied that Accretive Health employees also approached patients at North Memorial Hospital. While North Memorial Hospital used Accretive’s revenue cycle management software, the company did not engage in debt collection on the behalf of the hospital.