KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Field Hearing Probes Whether Accretive Health’s Bill Collection Practices Violated Patient Privacy

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who convened the hearing, questioned whether thousands of Minnesotans who trusted their health records to Minnesota's Fairview and North Memorial hospitals, suffered privacy breaches. The hearing follows an investigation by Minnesota's attorney general into the relationship between Accretive Health and Fairview.

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Franken Grills Accretive, Fairview Officials
A U.S. Senate field hearing at the state Capitol in St. Paul has raised new questions -- and left others unanswered -- about the controversial work of a Chicago-based consultant on billing and collection matters at Fairview Health Services. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., convened the Wednesday, May 30, hearing and said a key moment came when a top Accretive Health official failed to explain why a company employee had so much patient data on his laptop computer when it was stolen last year in Minneapolis. The theft led to state Attorney General Lori Swanson's investigation of the relationship between Accretive Health and Fairview and her scathing report in April that alleged overly aggressive billing and collection techniques at the health system (Snowbeck, 5/30).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Accretive Senior VP Apologizes, Defends Firm's Mission
An executive from Accretive Health Inc. apologized Wednesday to Minnesotans who were offended by aggressive debt-collection tactics at Fairview hospitals but offered the company's first public defense, saying its mission is to help patients pay their bills and help nonprofit hospitals improve their finances. Accretive Senior Vice President Greg Kazarian came under intense questioning at a field hearing in St. Paul called by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who said he was troubled not only by the way patients were hounded for payment but by the possibility that Accretive violated the privacy of thousands of Minnesotans who trusted their personal health records to Fairview and North Memorial hospitals. The two-hour hearing included another revelation from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's 10-month investigation of the Chicago consulting firm (Kennedy, 5/31).

Minnesota Public Radio: At Franken’s Hearing, Patient Tells Grim Debt Collection Story
A former patient of embattled Fairview Health Services testified at a U.S. Senate hearing in St. Paul Wednesday about being hit up for payment while writhing in pain on an emergency room gurney. U.S. Sen. Al Franken called the hearing to examine whether the aggressive debt collection practices at Fairview Health Systems broke federal laws. Minnesota's Attorney General has accused Fairview's former debt collector, Accretive Health, of various law violations. Deb Waldin of Edina said last July she was curled up in a ball in excruciating pain from a kidney stone when a billing employee approached her for payment (Stawicki, 5/30).

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