MN Attorney General investigates harmful medical billing practices

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(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is taking on corporate healthcare over how hospitals are billing patients.

AG Keith Ellison describes what hospitals are doing as aggressive, deceptive, and even abusive. Mayo Clinic is among the medical facilities he’s investigating. Ellison is holding listening sessions to get feedback from the public about their experiences with medical billing.

The Attorney General’s office has been actively looking into medical billing practices since 2005 when it spearheaded what’s known as the hospital agreement.

The agreement provides protections over how hospitals collect medical debt. Last December, the AG’s office began an investigation into Mayo Clinic after reports Mayo had sued patients over medical debt who had qualified for charity care, which goes against part of the 2005 hospital agreement.

A new law passed this legislative session also requires hospitals to screen certain patients for charity care.

At Ellison’s first listening session, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals shared stories of experiences they’ve had, including at Allina Health, a Twin Cities hospital system that the AG’s office is also investigating.

“We need patients, we need the community to stand together. We need to make healthcare work for patients, not work at the expense of patients,” said Dr. Matt Hoffman, a family doctor with Allina Health.

These medical professionals say hospital CEOs with no medical training should not be making medical decisions that directly impact patient care, doctors should.

The investigations into Mayo Clinic and Allina Health are still ongoing.

The Attorney General is holding another listening session on September 12th in Rochester, at RCTC’s Heintz Center.

If you’ve been affected by unfair medical billing practices, you can file a complaint on the Attorney General’s website.