Accretive Health Goes on Offensive, Seeks Standards for Health Care Debt Collections

Accretive Health will fund the health care industry’s first standards for how health care organizations handle patient finance and debt collections.

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Accretive has assembled a panel to be led by Michael Leavitt, former Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and three-term governor from Utah. Leavitt will be joined by former U.S. senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist and numerous health care industry experts.

The proposal is the latest of proactive public relations moves by Accretive to combat what has been a devastating report released last month by the Minnesota attorney general that criticized the company for what it perceived as excessive patient finance and debt collection practices. Accretive has denied the accusations, but saw its stock price halve shortly after the report was made public.

Over the weekend the company issued a point-by-point refutation of the attorney general’s report, which resulted in a bump in its stock price. Now it has taken the offensive and will be funding the creation of national standards for patient finance practices.

“This process will create first-of-kind national standards for understanding expected charges, available resources, counseling, billing and payment procedures regardless of the ability to pay,” according to the company’s press release.

Accretive promises not to be directly involved in the standards-setting process other than funding it. Leavitt’s group will select “an independent non-profit Standard Development Organization (SDO) to conduct a collaborative process among practitioners, patient advocates, and other interested parties,” according to the release. “Once concluded, the group will advance the identified standards to a national accrediting organization.”

The new patient finance standards panel will be formed later this month and begin work in June. Once those standard’s are established, Accretive intends to be one of the first organizations to be accredited.