U.S. Sen. Al Franken has set the lineup for a Senate Health Committee hearing that will explore federal patient privacy and debt collection laws in the wake of allegations that Accretive Health Inc. used high-pressure -- and possibly illegal tactics -- to collect money from hospital patients.
The Senate field hearing takes place at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Hearing Room 15 at the State Capitol in St. Paul.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson alleged that Accretive Health Inc. violated federal health, debt collection and privacy laws by demanding payment from Minnesota hospital patients before they were treated.
Swanson's probe found that Accretive developed the collections strategy used in emergency rooms, cancer units and delivery wards at Fairview Health Services hospitals in Minnesota that led Franken. In the report, which led Franken to arrange the hearing, several doctors complained that the high-pressure, quota-based tactics might discourage patients from seeking medical care. Soon after Swanson went public with her findings, Fairview canceled their contract with Accretive.
The Chicago-based company has released statements and rebuttals arguing that the attorney general's report distorted their business practices and released confidential information. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel came to the company's defense, asking Swanson to suspend her investigation.
Swanson, two Fairview patients, a former Fairview nurse and a representative from Accretive are among the scheduled panelists for Wednesday's hearing. Fairview CEO Mark Eustis had been scheduled before to testify before he announced his retirement. Interim CEO Charles Mooty will speak in his absence.
Here's a look at all the panelists:
State Attorney General Lori Swanson
State Commissioner of Commerce Michael Rothman
Charles Mooty, interim CEO, Fairview Health Services
Mr. Greg Kazarian, senior vice president, Accretive Health, Inc.
John "Tom" Fuller, patient
Deb Waldin, patient
Jean Ross, former Fairview nurse; co-president, National Nurses Union; member, Minnesota Nurses Association
Michele Goodwin, law professor, University of Minnesota
Jessica Curtis, director, Hospital Accountability Project of Community Catalyst