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Debt Collectors Take Places Alongside Hospital Staffs

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Hospital patients waiting in an emergency room or convalescing after surgery are being confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside. Embedding debt collectors as employees in emergency rooms and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment, were outlined in hundreds of company documents released by the attorney general. And they cast a spotlight on the increasingly desperate strategies among hospitals to recoup payments as their unpaid debts mount.

Accretive Health has contracts not only with two hospitals cited in Minnesota but also with hospital systems in MI and UT.

Minnesota Attorney General filed a civil suit against Accretive after a laptop with patient information was stolen, saying that the company had violated state and federal debt collection laws and patient privacy protections. That action is still pending.

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At www.nytimes.com

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