Accretive Health Inc. (“Accretive” or the “Company”), a registered debt-collection agency in Minnesota and several other states, was alleged to have violated numerous debt collection statutes and patient privacy laws in connection with the operation of its business. These violations became public when the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the Company in federal district court in Minnesota on January 19, 2012, citing numerous violations of state and federal health privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), debt collection laws, and consumer fraud laws. Swanson v. Accretive Health, Inc., Civil File No. 12-145 RHK/JJK (D. Minn. Jan. 19, 2012).
Hynes Keller & Hernandez helped to completely revamp Accretive’s internal compliance programs and procedures to ensure this type of behavior never again occurs at Accretive. Under the Settlement, Accretive implemented significant corporate governance reforms, including:
- Establish a Compliance Oversight Committee whose function, among other things, is to facilitate the continued development, implementation and operation of an effective compliance program and scrutinize the external and internal environment through early detection and reporting of potential risks (economic, regulatory, inadvertent, political) that will minimize losses to the Company and its clients, among others;
- The Compliance Oversight Committee shall maintain a charter that will allow, among other things, the Compliance Oversight Committee to (1) assess risks of non-compliance with (a) applicable debt collection regulations and laws and (b) HIPAA, EMTALA, and other applicable privacy laws; (2) train and heighten awareness on compliance, ethics, and policies and communicate methods for reporting possible violations; and (3) reinforce the Company’s culture of collaboration and compliance and audit and monitor adherence to the Company’s compliance and ethics related policies and procedures;
- Continue to engage an independent, third-party supplier to provide and monitor a whistle-blower hotline to Company employees, which will provide an anonymous communication channel for employees; and
- If issues concerning any alleged violation of the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics are reported to the whistle-blower hotline, the General Counsel or his designee will, as appropriate (a) evaluate such information; (b) inform the CEO and Audit Committee of any alleged violations involving an executive officer or a director of the Company; (c) determine whether an informal inquiry or a formal investigation is necessary, and initiate such inquiry or investigation as appropriate; and (d) report the results of any such inquiry or investigation, together with a recommendation as to a disposition of the matter, to the CEO, or in the event an executive officer or director is involved to the Audit Committee, for action.