Thursday, May 3, 2012

Congressional interest emerges in Accretive Health story

We blogged last week about the report on practices uncovered by the Minnesota Attorney General – results of the Minnesota attorney general's inquiry, released last week in a six-volume report that suggests Accretive Health violated federal laws while under contract with a Minneapolis hospital.

See New York Times article “Debt Collector Is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg (April 24, 2012) at

This week reports “Lawmakers request client list from Accretive,” by Melanie Evans (posted May 2, 2012 - 1:45 pm ET).

Find this article here:

Now, Members of Congress are in the fray.

The findings raise questions about how common such practices may be, said Reps. Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette, (D-Colo.), and G.K. Butterfield, (D-N.C.), in a letter to Accretive CEO Mary Tolan (PDF). These Members of the U.S. House asked Accretive Health's CEO for a list of clients and information on the company's policies on compliance with federal emergency room access, patient privacy and debt collection laws. The request comes ahead of a scheduled May 4 congressional briefing by Accretive Health.

Accretive Health has rejected the attorney general's report and said findings “grossly distort and mischaracterize” its services. In an April 29 statement, reports that “the company said that more than 90% of the revenue Accretive Health collects comes from third-party payers.” “The suggestion that our focus or practice is to put bedside pressure on patients to pay their medical bills out of pocket is a flagrant distortion of fact,” the statement said.

Find its April 29 statement here or here:

The congressional letter requests that Accretive Health provide by May 14 a list of clients as well as information on guidance related to patient registration and collection efforts prior to treatment; policies and procedures related to EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act), federal private and debt collection laws; information on complaints and how the company estimates prices and patient bills; policies about refunds and information about whether its practices are standard across the industry.

The company faces interest on other fronts. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) last week called for HHS and the CMS to investigate Accretive Health.

See a follow-up New York Times article “In Congress, a Move to Look Into a Medical Debt Collector” by JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG (April 26). Find this article here:

Rep. Pete Stark, a Democrat and highest ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees Medicare and other health services, on April 26, asked Marilyn B. Tavenner, the acting administrator for the Medicare and Medicaid agency, to investigate the company’s practices. He sent an identical letter to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson.

Specifically, Stark has urged officials at the CMS and HHS' inspector general's office to examine possible violations of federal law by Accretive. The California Democrat also asked that he be informed of enforcement measures and that Medicare-participating hospitals be notified immediately if any violations are found.

Find his letter here:

Links to the New York Times article may also be found here:

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