Minnesota AG Keith Ellison held listening session in Rochester Tuesday over medical billing

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he’s concerned over billing practices and wants to hear directly from Minnesotans as part of his push to update public policy.

People gathered at the Heintz Center on the Rochester Community Technical College campus to share their concerns.

They were given two minutes to talk about their experience with medical billing practices and what needs to be addressed.

“We see this time and time again and more and more often and this kind of thing is going to get worse and worse with these billing practices that they are now doing. I know up in St. Paul we were taking on Allina and down here we’re taking on Mayo,” president of the Minnesota Nurses Association Mary Turner said.

According to the speakers, part of the issue can be found in Rochester.

Mayo Clinic recently started charging patients for messaging their doctor through their online patient portal and also received heavy criticism when were exempt from the then ‘Keeping Nurses by the Bedside Act.’

Some said the billing practices hurt patients trying to receive care.

Others had opposing experiences, like The Salvation Army in Rochester.

They were contacted by a patient that was uninsured and had to pay $5,000 up front at the clinic they were at.

The Salvation Army used their connections at Mayo Clinic’s charity care services to help the patient get the care they needed.

“We at the Salvation Army have found the Mayo Clinic and especially their Charity Care Program to be a great support to providing free medical care to the uninsured of our community,” Major Candance Voeller said.

The issue may go beyond just paying for care.

Issues like the cost to receive medical records and the role hospital mergers might play were also discussed.

In the end, AG Ellison expressed his commitment to address the issue with the power of his office.

“Even if you did not talk about medical billing, I’m really grateful for your comments because we need to talk about all of it. We want you to know that your Attorney General’s Office is there to help you, wants to enforce the law and wants to make sure that you can afford your life and live with dignity, safety, and respect,” said Ellison.

For those who weren’t able to attend and would like to share their medical billing concerns, click HERE.