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    Modern Healthcare: In letter to Franken, Accretive denies violating EMTALA

    Modern Healthcare reports on developments concerning Accretive Health and patient privacy. The company has responded (MH pdf; archive pdf) to questions from  Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law of the Senate Judiciary Committee, concerning Accretive’s privacy and debt-collection practices. Modern Healthcare reports:

    In comments to U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Accretive Health rejected a recent report that suggested the healthcare billing and collection company violated emergency-room access, patient privacy and debt collection laws.

    Accretive’s 29-page comment letter (PDF) came in response to questions from the senator following a highly critical report from Minnesota’s attorney general on Accretive’s business practices. The report said Accretive employees, under contract for Fairview Health Services, sought payment from emergency room and hospital patients before or as they sought care.

    Under the Emergency Medial Treatment and Labor Act, emergency room patients must be seen and stabilized prior to discussion of payment. “We note the Minnesota attorney general has not brought any claims against Accretive Health for violation of EMTALA, and we believe that our policies and practices are in full compliance with EMTALA and have not identified any EMTALA violation in our investigation to date,” Accretive wrote. […]

    Accretive addressed questions about its post-treatment debt collection efforts as well. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said the company’s collectors had access to sensitive patient information. Collectors had access to an “easily understood description of the diagnosis code” for patients, the company said. Accounting software used by Fairview prior to its Accretive contract taking effect did not restrict access to patient information but the company began to limit its employees’ access eight months into the Fairview contract, Accretive said.

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