Minn. AG: Lawsuit against Accretive should move forward

Jessica M. Karmasek Jul. 16, 2012, 12:35pm


MINNEAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson shot back in a federal court filing last week, arguing that her lawsuit against Chicago-based service provider Accretive Health Inc. should continue.

On Thursday, Swanson filed a 44-page memorandum of law in opposition to Accretive's motion to dismiss the attorney general's second amended complaint.

"Accretive orchestrated a pattern of unlawful and reprehensible conduct toward emergency room and other hospital patients in Minnesota. These patients should be heard, and this lawsuit should move forward," the attorney general wrote in the filing.

Swanson sued Accretive, a provider of revenue cycle management services for health care providers, in January.

In Accretive's filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota July 2, it asked that the attorney general's second amended complaint be dismissed.

The company argues that her newest complaint fails to raise any new issue for the court to consider.

Swanson's amended complaint, filed last month, alleged numerous patients were led to believe they had to pay before receiving care, among other things.

"The attorney general's Second Amended Complaint ('SAC') changes nothing about this lawsuit: it states the very same legal claims and seeks the very same (limited) relief as the prior complaint," Accretive wrote in its 29-page memorandum.

"While the SAC includes additional factual allegations, even if taken as true, these new allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

The company continued, "Furthermore, the attorney general must do far more than submit 'legal conclusion[s]' or 'naked assertion[s].' Such allegations are 'not entitled to the assumption of truth' and must be disregarded."

Swanson sued Accretive for failing to protect the confidentiality of patient health care records and not disclosing to patients its extensive involvement in their health care through its role in managing the revenue and health care delivery systems at two Minnesota hospital systems.

Last July, Accretive lost a laptop computer containing unencrypted health data about 23,500 patients in Minnesota.

Swanson's suit alleges the company gained access to sensitive patient data through contracts with the hospitals and numerically scored patients' risk of hospitalization and medical complexity, graded their "frailty," compiled per-patient profit and loss reports, and identified patients deemed to be "outliers."

"The debt collector found a way to essentially monetize portions of the revenue and health care delivery systems of some nonprofit hospitals for Wall Street investors, without the knowledge or consent of patients who have the right to know how their information is being used and to have it kept confidential," the attorney general said in January.

"Accretive showcases its activities to Wall Street investors but hides them from Minnesota patients. Hospital patients should have at least the same amount of information about Accretive's extensive role in their health care that Wall Street investors do."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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