Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson to back off of Accretive Health Inc. until she’s met company executives to discuss her concerns about its collection practices.

In an undated letter addressed to Swanson, Emanuel defends Chicago-based Accretive, which served as a financial consultant at Fairview hospitals until last month when she released a report that alleged the company  violated federal and state laws, including those regulating debt collection and patient privacy, to collect debt from patients.

Emanuel’s letter did not directly address any of the concerns Swanson’s report raised, but said Accretive Health “does important work for hospitals and good things for our City, particularly for our neediest citizens.”

In response, Swanson wrote that Accretive CEO Mary Tolan declined her invitation to meet last week and vowed to press on with her investigation.

“This is a law enforcement matter,” Swanson wrote. “Unfortunately, Accretive appears to address it as a political one. It has retained or contacted numerous heavyweights in the national Democratic Party.”

Last week, Accretive’s lawyer accused Swanson of distorting the company’s business practices and blindsiding the company by release information that Accretive provided “voluntarily and confidentially.”

Emanuel, a former chief of staff for President Barack Obama, also requested that Swanson not interview Accretive’s clients until she met with the company’s, CEO Mary Tolan.

“I request that the parties cease efforts to publicly prosecute this matter and rather try to resolve the matter privately,” Emanuel’s letter read.

“I also request that there should be no further contact between your Office and the company’s clients pending the outcome of the meeting. Please confirm to me that is the path we are on ...”
Swanson doesn’t plan to stand down.

“We will continue to interview witnesses and perform our law enforcement responsibilities over charitable hospitals in Minnesota,” she wrote.

She latter added: “This is a law enforcement matter, and it will continue to be addressed as a law enforcement matter. The patients who suffered indignities from Accretive will be heard.”