Accretive Health, a debt-collection company under fire from Minnesota and federal officials for aggressive tactics to squeeze money from hospital patients, is striking back at critics.
In a rebuttal to accusations made by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson (D), Accretive Health flatly denied it has violated federal or Minnesota laws governing debt collection and patient privacy and said its role in hospitals is to help patients find ways to pay for their medical care. "We are proud of what we do," the company said in 29-page report issued Friday evening. "Patients appreciate the education, expertise, and compassion that we provide."
Democratic lawmakers and federal agencies have made inquiries and Accretive Health shares lost more than half their value before rebounding after the company reported positive earnings Thursday.
The Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Trade Commission, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) have joined Swanson in questioning whether Accretive Health goes too far in efforts to make sure hospital clients get paid. Accretive Health's report is in response to questions from Franken, who has scheduled a Senate committee hearing in St. Paul on May 30.
"It seems to me a new, aggressive way of approaching patients," Waxman said. "This is part of an ongoing concern we've had about hospitals charging more to uninsured patients." The federal health care reform law says nonprofit hospitals can only charge uninsured people the "amounts generally billed to individuals who have insurance," according to the Internal Revenue Service. Minnesota law requires hospitals to charge uninsured people the same rate as the insurance company that covers the largest number of their patients, Swanson's reports said.
Revealing Accretive Health debt collecting video: