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Remember when "tough tactics" used to be a euphemism for torture?

(Example.*) Well, it's still true. Read this in the Times about "Accretive Health", a collection agency. Here's their tactic:

Debt Collector Is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals

One of the nation’s largest medical debt-collection companies is under fire in Minnesota for having placed its employees in emergency rooms and other departments at two hospitals and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment, according to documents released Tuesday by the Minnesota attorney general. The documents say the company also used patient health records to wrangle for more money on overdue bills.

Indistinguishable from medical staff members, Accretive employees register patients, take down sensitive health information and champion aggressive bill collection goals with incentives like gift cards for staff members, the company records show.

Sounds like Excretive would be a better name for these weasels than Accretive, but let that pass. I knew our health care system was sick, but I didn't know it was this sick.

I wonder if it's possible to sue the hospitals for allowing non-medical staff to pose as medical staff?

NOTE * The example is from the Obama administration, of course. This story also reminds me of the way the Obama administration discrediting rural vaccination programs in Pakistan, by using one as cover for gathering intelligence about Obama's compound. And so what if some peasants die because they think all doctors are spies, now? Of course, Obama had the justification that killing Bin Laden would help his re-election chances, but this program doesn't even have that justification.

Anyhow, hitherto, one hadn't expected to find a debt collector using the uniform of an Emergency Room intake nurse as cover, but I suppose that means none of us were cynical enough.

One more reason to never, ever to get involved with the medical system if you can possibly avoid it.

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Submitted by cg.eye on

... consider what it means for the US Government and state regulatory agencies to allow hospitals to deliberately violate HIPAA from the moment they signed contracts with bill collectors (since we know these federal actions are but mere kabuki theatre -- it's an election year....). It means that people who have no licenses to threaten now are the gatekeepers for all medical care, 'cause why would they stop at putting collector stooges only in ERs? These clowns are now empowered to ignore federal and state law, as long as the hospitals get their cut.

Do you see that if bill collection agencies can get this perq, why not intelligence agencies? This breach allows anyone with a bill collector NOC cover to enter any beleaguered hospital, get access to any patient record either stored or freshly generated, and use that data to dig deeper into people's most personal data.

And all any organized crime group need do is buy the burned credit card numbers of bankrupt folks, make a few transactions to model their fake collection agency's high rate of success, buy one face's participation in securing a hospital contract, then tap into the medical and financial files of an entire region.

This is regulatory capture that will literally eat us alive. The hospitals have finally abandoned their mission of care that should, if Allah were just, would yank their non-profit statuses from them. Sooner or later, during an epidemic when sufferers might have just one bill they're behind on, the collectors will be empowered to collect from any disgruntled creditor found on the credit report. The Hippocratic Oath? Passe -- and it's just been sold for scrap, on Antiques Roadshow.

And, do we even need to say that Medicare for All is the answer? And Tea Partiers complain about socialism that helps just about everyone, when this trend is negative corporatism at its worst?

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