MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Accretive Health, Inc. will cease all operations in the state of Minnesota, as announced by Attorney General Lori Swanson on Monday.
Under a settlement of Swanson’s federal lawsuit against the company, Accretive must stop all business operations in the next 90 days and cannot reenter the state for six years.
Swanson says the company will also pay $2.5 million to set up a restitution fund for patients and return patient data to its client hospitals in the state.
“A hospital emergency room is a place of medical trauma and emotional suffering for patients and their families. It should be a solemn place, not a place for a financial shakedown of patients. It is good to close the door on this disturbing chapter in Minnesota health care,” said Attorney General Swanson, in a press release.
Swanson filed a lawsuit against the Chicago firm, after it helped some Minnesota hospitals collect debt from patients. Swanson’s office started to investigate the practices of Accretive Health last October, after one of the company’s laptops was stolen from a rental car of an employee. The laptop contained data on more than 23,000 patients.
Swanson obtained sworn affidavits from about 60 patients to support the lawsuit, including those who said they felt pressured to pay while they were still waiting for care. The patients say they feared they would not get needed medical treatment if they didn’t pay on the spot.
Included in those affidavits was a mother who was taken from the side of her teenage daughter — who tried to overdose on a bottle of pills. The mother said she was forced to give a credit card in the middle of the night and pay $500 before she could return to her daughter.
Accretive provided revenue management services to Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Health Care. Fairview terminated the company’s contract after Swanson sued in January.
Swanson alleged that Accretive violated state and federal debt collection laws and violated consumers’ health care privacy rights.
Accretive spokeswoman Ruth Pachman called Swanson’s filings contain “mischaracterizations and distortions” and the company attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed. On Monday, the company released a statement saying the claims are “baseless or exaggerated.”
“The Minnesota Attorney General’s actions towards Accretive Health were unnecessarily aggressive and, unfortunately, will cost more than 100 Minnesotans their jobs,” said Chief Executive Officer Mary Tolan, in a release.
The settlement requires the approval of the U.S. District Court.
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