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Michigan residents take note: debt collection being investigated

Residents of Michigan who are buried by debt may be overjoyed to learn that one of the nation's largest medical debt collectors is subject to investigation for a potential violation of federal law. Accretive Health stands accused of violating laws that require medical facilities to render emergency care despite legal status, citizenship or payment ability.

The nationally known medical debt collecting company is said to have enlisted tactics that require patients who are seeking emergency care to pay any and all outstanding balances prior to receiving treatment. A congressman read about the company's tactics in a news article and was motivated to action. He requested that the acting administrator for Medicare and Medicaid conduct an investigation into the organization's practices.

These medical debt collection practices are potentially criminal and put consumers, who are already in a vulnerable position, further at risk. One state's attorney general disclosed documents from the company that have raised concerns that Accretive has engaged in aggressive debt collection practices all over the United States. Doctors have voiced concerns that the company's practices may discourage financially strained patients from seeking emergency care when they need it.

On top of accusations of aggressive debt collection practices, the company has been accused with the potential violation of patient privacy laws. This accusation was spawned by a suit filed in January after an Accretive employee's laptop was stolen - the laptop contained more than 23,000 patient records. It's no secret that medical expenses can put already cash-strapped Michigan families in a precarious financial situation and unlawful pressure from debt collectors will only to add insult to injury.

If you are struggling with credit card or medical debt and are being harassed by collection agencies, consider contacting a bankruptcy attorney in your area who can help you get relief from aggressive collection efforts. A bankruptcy attorney can also help you determine if a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be right for you.

Source: New York Times, "In Congress, a move to look into a medical debt collector," Jessica Silver-Greenberg, April 26, 2012

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