Chicago mayor weighs in on Accretive Health-attorney general flapby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is asking Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson to resume talks with Accretive Health.
Swanson has alleged that Accretive Health violated state and federal debt collection and patient privacy laws in its work with Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Medical Center. A lawsuit filed by her office against the company is pending in federal court.
In a letter to Swanson, Emanuel urged Swanson and her staff to meet with Accretive Health CEO Mary Tolan to resolve the dispute.
"In the meantime, I request that the parties cease efforts to publicly prosecute this matter and rather try to resolve the matter privately," Emanuel wrote.
He also requested that the attorney general's office stop contacting Accretive Health's clients pending the outcome of the meeting.
Emanuel indicated he and Swanson spoke by phone last week. In the letter, he also said Accretive Health has a record of helping needy citizens access health care and has done good things for Chicago, where the company is based.
In a written statement, Accretive Health applauded Emanuel for "help in reaching a fair resolution of our issues with the Minnesota Attorney General." The company also touted Emanuel's involvement in passing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul when he was Obama's chief of staff.
Swanson's office issued a response suggesting Accretive Health officials are attempting to bring politics into the dispute.
"This is a law enforcement matter. Unfortunately, Accretive appears to address it as a political one," the statement read, noting the attorneys representing the company have strong ties to the Democratic Party. "It will continue to be addressed as a law enforcement matter. The patients who suffered indignities from Accretive will be heard."
Swanson and Emanuel are both Democrats.
The lawsuit against Accretive Health was filed in January. Swanson made her investigation of the company's relationship with Fairview Health Services public two weeks ago, and the company has worked to defend its name since then after a sharp drop in its stock price.
Also Tuesday, a Minnesota group weighed in on the issue for the first time. The president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, the union representing 20,000 nurses in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, said she supports Swanson's investigation of Accretive Health.
"I want to thank Lori Swanson for ignoring political pressure and corporate influence and continuing to stand up for the patients we care for," President Linda Hamilton said in a written statement.