The Potluck

Minnesota attorney general launches investigation of Allina Health’s billing practices

By: - August 18, 2023 1:40 pm

Allina Health Mercy Hospital Unity Campus in Fridley. Courtesy photo.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Friday an investigation into Allina Health’s billing practices, following a New York Times investigation that revealed the health care system cut off non-emergency care to patients behind on medical debt.

Allina Health, one of the largest non-profit health systems in Minnesota, canceled appointments for patients with more than $4,500 in debt, including those with chronic conditions needing ongoing care, according to the Times report. Allina Health said it stopped the practice after the article generated public outcry.

“Denying patients needed care on the basis of medical debt harms every Minnesotan, whether or not they are Allina patients,” Ellison said in a statement. “My office has heard from a good number of Allina patients who have shared their own upsetting stories of being denied care for this reason.”

In a statement, an Allina Health spokesperson said the health care system continues to engage with the Attorney General’s Office about their compliance with what’s called the “Minnesota Hospital Agreement” and “the comprehensive support we offer patients with financial needs.”

In December, Ellison’s office announced an investigation into Mayo Clinic’s billing practices following reporting by the Rochester Post-Bulletin that the hospital system sued patients who qualified for charity care over their medical debt. Under the Minnesota Hospital Agreement, patients must be given the opportunity to apply for charity care if they may be eligible.

Ellison’s office also announced he would host medical billing listening sessions in St. Paul on Aug. 23 and Rochester on Sept. 12.

The Attorney General’s Office asks Minnesota residents to share their stories of Allina’s billing practices or those of any medical provider by completing the Medical Billing and Health Care Access Community Input Form or a consumer assistance request, or by calling the Attorney General’s Office at 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.