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Minnesota Seeks Wider Complaint Against Accretive Health

Accretive Health Inc. (AH) maintains “an aggressive boiler room-type culture within hospitals,” Minnesota’s attorney general said in court papers seeking to add to her lawsuit complaint against the health-care billings management company.

Attorney General Lori Swanson, who sued the Chicago-based company in January over alleged violations of privacy law, raised new claims today in a bid for permission to revise her complaint against Accretive for the second time.

On April 30, the company asked U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle in St. Paul, Minnesota to throw out the case, arguing it is “factually baseless and legally indefensible.” The state hasn’t filed opposition papers. A hearing is set for Aug. 2.

“Accretive prepared a document called ‘the Accretive Secret Sauce,’ or ‘ASS,’ touting ‘you’ve never seen ASS like ours!”’ according to the new filing, referencing a two-page exhibit it says describes the company’s emergency room collections process.

“The impact of the ‘Secret Sauce’ on patients is very real,” according to Swanson’s filing. “Its tactics also violate the law.”

In her complaint, the attorney general criticized Accretive’s work for Minnesota-based Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Health Care. She later alleged the firm improperly posted debt collectors in hospital emergency rooms and at patient bedsides.

“The state’s proposed amended complaint contains no new causes of action and no additional requested relief,” Ruth Pachman, a spokeswoman for Accretive, said in an e-mailed statement.

Swanson’s new allegations contain mischaracterizations and distortions of documents and facts, Pachman said, adding that her client would seek dismissal of the second amended complaint, too.

The case is State of Minnesota v. Accretive Health Inc., 12-cv-00145, U.S. District Court for Minnesota (St. Paul).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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