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Sen. Franken’s Statement on Allegations that Accretive Health, Inc. Violated Patient Privacy and Used Illegal Debt Collection Practices

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) released the following statement after reviewing Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s report on her investigation into Accretive Health, Inc.:
“I am alarmed by the activities of Accretive Health, outlined in Attorney General Swanson’s report. If these allegations are true—and I do want to hear all sides of this story—they would be an affront to the health, privacy, and dignity of Minnesotans. In the coming days, I plan to investigate these activities in my capacity as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law and as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.”
On Tuesday, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson released a report detailing the alleged activities of Accretive Health, Inc., a contractor of Fairview Hospital in Minnesota. The report is the result of an extensive investigation undertaken by the Attorney General’s office and describes activities that may have violated federal health, debt collection, and privacy laws. These alleged activities included demanding that patients pre-pay for services before receiving treatment, particularly targeting pregnant women admitted to labor and delivery departments. In another example detailed in the report, Accretive employees accessed detailed patient records, including mental health and other sensitive diagnoses, and used this information to attempt to collect on outstanding debts. Attorney General Swanson is continuing to investigate these alleged activities.
Sen. Franken is the Chairman of the Senate Privacy, Technology, and the Law Subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In November, Senator Franken held a Subcommittee hearing entitled “Your Health and Your Privacy: Protecting Health Information in a Digital World,” which focused on the privacy implications of electronic health records in hospitals.  Senator Franken is also the author of the End Debt Collector Abuse Act of 2010, a bill designed to protect consumers from abusive and fraudulent debt collection practices.

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