Monday, April 30, 2012
Accretive Denies Accusations of Pressuring Patients to Pay
By BLOOMBERG NEWS
Accretive Health, one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical bills, took issue on Sunday with a report by the Minnesota attorney general’s office that it puts bedside pressure on patients to pay their bills.
The allegations “grossly distort and mischaracterize” the company’s revenue cycle services, it said in a statement. The suggestion that Accretive puts bedside pressure on patients to pay their bills out of pocket is a “flagrant distortion of fact,” the company said. It said it was working with its advisers to address those allegations.
Even before the hospital bills started coming, Lori Duff and her family were living paycheck to paycheck. So when the debt collector called the Columbus, Ohio, mother and demanded $1,800 for the prenatal visits she'd had while pregnant with her third son, she panicked.
Quick Facts About High-Deductible Health Plans
KHN Staff Writer
APR 27, 2012
High-deductible health care plans are no longer a novelty—they are becoming mainstream. According to the industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, the number of people with this kind of coverage reached more than 11.4 million in January 2011, up from 10 million in January 2010.
A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about half of all workers in "small" businesses (up to 199 workers) who have health insurance have these plans. (KHN is an editorially-independent program of the foundation.) Here is a brief guide to this type of health insurance:
New Millinocket health clinic a boon to the Katahdin region, officials say
Group backs human rights status for health care
Health Care for All-Oregon plans statewide campaign to put pressure on LegislatureBy Bennett Hall
Corvallis Gazette-Times, April 24, 2012
Taking a page from Vermont’s playbook, Oregon reform advocates plan to launch a major campaign to have health care declared a human right.
“It means you get the care you need when you need it,” said Dr. Mike Huntington of Corvallis, the newly elected president of Health Care for All-Oregon.
The statewide organization’s ultimate goal remains single-payer health care — a taxpayer-funded system that would cover medical, mental and dental treatment for all Oregon residents, replacing private health insurance.
But despite some support in Salem, single-payer bills have never gotten very far in the Legislature.
Now, Huntington said, it’s time for a new tactic: a broad-based effort to mobilize public support for the notion that everyone deserves access to health care.
“We realized from others’ experience — primarily from Vermont — that it doesn’t really matter how good your argument is,” Huntington said. “It’s how well you can move people.”
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
(Editorial comment: Your money or your life. A new American extortion racket.
Debt Collector Is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals
By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG
Hospital patients waiting in an emergency room or convalescing after surgery are being confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside.
This and other aggressive tactics by one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical debts, Accretive Health, were revealed on Tuesday by the Minnesota attorney general, raising concerns that such practices have become common at hospitals across the country.
The tactics, like 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.
To patients, the debt collectors may look indistinguishable from hospital employees, may demand they pay outstanding bills and may discourage them from seeking emergency care at all, even using scripts like those in collection boiler rooms, according to the documents and employees interviewed by The New York Times.
In Congress, a Move to Look Into a Medical Debt Collector
A California representative is calling for an investigation into Accretive Health, one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical debt, for potentially violating a federal law that requires hospitals to provide emergency care regardless of citizenship, legal status or the ability to pay.
The congressman, Pete Stark, a Democrat who is the highest ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees Medicare and other health services, on Thursday asked Marilyn B. Tavenner, the acting administrator for the Medicare and Medicaid agency, to investigate the company’s practices.
He sent an identical letter to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson.
In an interview, Mr. Stark said that he was most alarmed about Accretive’s tactics of demanding that patients seeking emergency care pay outstanding balances before receiving treatment. Mr. Stark said he was spurred to action after reading about Accretive’s practices in an article in The New York Times on Wednesday.
“The behavior is potentially criminal,” said Mr. Stark, who wrote the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, the law mandating that hospitals provide care even to patients who are unable to pay for it.
Mercy: 'no aggressive collection practices'Posted:Today
Updated: 10:44 AM
The hospital says it will not tolerate its contractor using techniques that have made it the object of a Minnesota suit.
PORTLAND - Mercy Hospital said Thursday that it will not tolerate aggressive bill-collection practices, such as posting debt collectors in emergency rooms and at patients' bedsides, by a contractor it hired this month.
Health care reform: Is it ‘fair’?
A critique of the Affordable Care Act and a proposal for MaineBy Alice E. Knapp
Maine AllCare, April 24, 2012
Good people reasonably disagree on the merits of “Obamacare” (the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or “ACA”). Recent Congressional Budget Office estimates, however, project the ACA will leave approximately 27 million Americans uninsured in 2016 and beyond. While I might once have been persuaded that the law’s coverage gains justifies its failings, I now equate leaving 27 million Americans uninsured with having passed a law that freed but 90 percent of this nation’s slaves.
I view the ACA as symptomatic of this country’s corrosive slide into divisive, winners/losers politics. The law’s defenders have remained silent on why they believe it appropriate to extend through Medicaid expansions near free, comprehensive health insurance to millions of low income Americans while leaving millions of moderate income Americans similarly unable to afford comprehensive coverage to fend for themselves.
Visiting the Kaiser Foundation’s Health Reform Subsidy Calculator and entering two hypothetical, 52-year-old residents of a high-cost state like Maine illustrates the inadequacy of the ACA’s individual mandate premium subsidies and their arbitrary nature.
Daily Activity Tied to Lower Alzheimer’s RiskBy NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Higher levels of daily physical activity are associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.
The report, in the April 24 issue of Neurology, included 716 people, average age 82, without cognitive impairment. Each wore a wrist actigraph, a device that measures movement, for about 10 days to establish his or her usual level of daily physical activity. Over the next four years, 71 of them developed Alzheimer’s.
The researchers found that those in the lowest 10 percent for physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop the disease as those in the highest 10 percent. The association held after controlling for age, sex, education, vascular diseases, depression and the frequency of social activities.
Discriminatory health care law deserves challenge
Doctor Pay: Where The Specialists Are All Above Average
Making a living practicing medicine is more complicated and frustrating than ever. But it still pays. And pretty well.