Minnesota Attorney General has responded to Accretive Health’s calls for dismissal of her lawsuit against them with a fresh round of allegations that the company targeted adults and children in the ER in its quest to extract payment from them.
The stories of the patient contained in the legal filing go to the heart of Lori Swanson’s allegation that the debt collection agency’s employees extracted payments from very sick people by implying that treatment would be withheld if they did not clear their debt. These tactics are in violation of state and federal law, Swanson has charged. In some cases, Accretive Health employees demanded prepayment from patients who visited the ER before they had seen a doctor or been billed for the visit.
In addition to filing a response to Accretive’s calls for a dismissal, the attorney general’s office publicly released sworn affidavits of patients and from parents of several children who went into the ER for various reasons. They narrated their stories of being approached by Accretive Health employees in the ER to get money. Accretive has lost contracts with several hospitals as a result of the ongoing investigation.
In one patient affidavit, the mother of a mentally depressed child reports how upset her daughter became when she overheard a conversation about prepayment for her emergency room visit at Fairview Hospital in Minnesota. Here’s a portion of that affidavit:
Before our child had been seen by any psychiatrist (or any doctor) a woman told us that our share of the visit would be in excess of $800. … I was not told that the payment of this amount up front was optional, but instead was given the definite impression that our daughter would not receive treatment if I did not pay. As the woman asked for money our daughter was curled up crying in the fetal position. She overheard the conversation.
This affidavit, along with 10 others, will be filed with the court later, said Ben Wogsland, spokesman with the attorney general’s office.
In response, Accretive Health repeated its charge that the AG was mischaracterizing and distorting documents. It added that Swanson’s campaign against the Chicago debt collection agency had cost the state healthcare jobs.
Once again, the attorney general has rehashed the same baseless allegations and mischaracterizations on which her original claim was based. Her filings are designed to distract attention from the incontrovertible fact that she has not been able to identify a single patient who had an inappropriate interaction with an Accretive Health employee or who was denied care for any reason. The conduct described by these patients is directly contrary to Accretive Health’s policies, practices and training.
Regrettably, the attorney general’s actions have already cost Minnesota nearly a hundred jobs including nurses and social workers who worked for Accretive Health’s pioneering program to help the sickest patients in Minnesota, and Accretive Health’s work to find medical coverage for thousands of previously uninsured Minnesotans. None of this work had anything to do with debt collection.