The New York Times reports that Accretive Health has settled with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office for $2.5 million over allegations that it violated federal law. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson went after Accretive Health with a vengeance amidst allegations that the debt collector intercepted patients in the emergency room in an attempt to collect past healthcare-related debts. The Times quoted Swanson as saying, “A hospital emergency room should be a sanctuary for the sick and wounded, not a hunting ground for collectors.” The settlement also prevents Accretive Health from contracting with Minnesota hospitals for a period of two years, and requires the company to obtain permission from the AG’s office before operating in Minnesota for the following four years.
The allegations against Accretive Health prompted U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to hold hearings on patient access and privacy, and the U.S. Treasury Department to propose regulations that would, among other things, protect patients from abusive debt collection practices in a healthcare setting.