AG Ellison announces investigation of health care billing, access; listening sessions scheduled
State leaders want to hear about your experiences with medical billing as they continue to look into the practice throughout Minnesota.
Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced his office is investigating Allina Health’s billing practices.
Ellison’s office cited past reports saying the health care organization cut off non-emergency medical care to patients who owed medical debt under the Termination of Care Policy. His office goes on to say Allina paused its Termination of Care Policy on June 9.
Allina allegedly enforced the policy on people who had “relatively small amounts of debt” and also involved some patients who have chronic conditions and rely on continuous care.
The Attorney General’s Office has led the Hospital Agreement since 2005, which protects Minnesotans who get care at all 128 hospitals in the state from practices considered to be abusive, harassing and deceptive when medical debt is collected. It also prohibits unfair billing and collection practices, mandates hospitals give discounts on services for certain patients and also mandates that hospitals provide a payment plan for all patients. Ellison’s office renewed the agreement in July for another five years.
The following prepared statement was issued regarding Ellison’s investigation:
“I continue to be concerned about reports of Allina denying needed non-emergency medical care solely on the basis of medical debt. Allina is bound under the Hospital Agreement to refrain from oppressive billing practices and provide charity care when patients need and qualify for it, as all Minnesota hospitals are. Denying patients needed care on the basis of medical debt harms every Minnesotan, whether or not they are Allina patients. My office has heard from a good number of Allina patients who have shared their own upsetting stories of being denied care for this reason. I continue to encourage people who have experienced or are familiar with these practices to keep contacting my office so we can determine the scope of the problem and whether any laws or agreements have been broken.”Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
Ellison also said he will be holding public listening sessions during the next few weeks to hear from consumers on their experiences with medical billing — with Allina or any other health care provider.
Allina Health also provided a statement regarding the investigation:
“Allina Health continues to engage with the Attorney General’s Office about our compliance with the Minnesota Hospital Agreement and the comprehensive support we offer patients with financial needs. Our policy that interrupted the scheduling of non-emergency, outpatient clinic care remains on pause since June 9th. We continue to conduct research and analysis as well as outreach to patients and remain committed to reducing barriers to care.”Allina Health
There will be two public listening sessions. The first will be held in St. Paul on Aug. 23 from 5:30-7 p.m. in room 2000 of the Minnesota Department of Revenue building. The second will be held on Sept. 12 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Rochester Community and Technical College’s Heintz Center.
Although you don’t have to sign up ahead of time to speak at the St. Paul listening session, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.
If you can’t visit either of those sessions, you can also visit the Attorney General’s booth at the Minnesota State Fair, located in the Education Building on Cosgrove Street, and share experiences with medical billing and health care access with staff members. You can also fill out an online form by CLICKING HERE, or by calling 651-296-3353 if you live in the Twin Cities metro area. Those who live in Greater Minnesota can call 800-657-3787.