Healthcare News & Insights

Were this hospital’s billing practices too aggressive?

The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, is in the midst of something your facility never wants to experience.

The facility is going through an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health — requested by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — as to whether the facility violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) with its billing and collection practices in the emergency room.

The investigation is in response to a report by the attorney general that questioned the billing and collection practices by the facility and Accretive Health, Fairview’s Chicago-based consulting firm. According to the StarTribune, there were concerns raised in the attorney general’s report that financial counselors may have delayed a child’s treatment in the ER due to financial issues.

At this point, CMS hasn’t gotten the official report from the Minnesota Department of Health and, therefore, hasn’t weighed in on the case yet.

But Fairview has conducted its own investigation and found no incidents where a patient’s treatment was delayed.

Accretive Health has vehemently denied any claims of wrongdoing.

In the case in question, Accretive said in a statement that the financial counselors were accommodating a family member’s request for information about the approximate cost of treatment. The statement went on to say the father of the patient even expressed his appreciation for their assistance.

In a written response to questions from U.S. Sen. Al Franken, Accretive did admit that its counselors call patients at home before scheduled procedures and talk to patients in the ER and other areas of the hospital, but only to clarify insurance coverage and the patient’s portion of a bill.

In addition, the company said when patients in the ER were approached it was with the permission of the medical staff and during treatment down times. It also claimed its employees are trained never to insist on payment from patients or suggest they won’t be treated unless they pay.

When CMS receives the report and reaches a conclusion, we’ll update you on the case.





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