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Public Statements

Sen. Franken Announces Witness List for U.S. Senate Field Hearing on Effectiveness of Laws Protecting Patient Care, Health Privacy

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Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced the full list of witnesses who will appear at his Senate field hearing at the Minnesota State Capitol to examine if current federal laws effectively protect patients' access to care and privacy. Witnesses will include Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Michael Rothman, representatives from Fairview Health Services and Accretive Health, and patients and local experts.

"Minnesotans should be able to get the emergency care they need without being pestered for payment," said Sen. Franken. "This hearing will give us a chance to look into whether existing laws go far enough in protecting patients' rights and privacy. I'm pleased that Fairview and Accretive will send top executives to explain themselves, and I look forward to hearing from Attorney General Swanson and the other witnesses."

Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Health committee, arranged for the hearing after Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson issued a report looking into whether Chicago-based Accretive Health Inc.'s debt collection and patient privacy practices violated federal health, debt collection, and privacy laws. After reading the Attorney General's report, Sen. Franken wrote to Accretive's CEO requesting information about the allegations. Accretive Health Inc. formerly was a contractor for Fairview Health Services in Minnesota.

The hearing, entitled "Ensuring Patients' Access to Care and Privacy: Are Federal Laws Protecting Patients?," will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 30th at the Minnesota State Capitol. It will feature four panels of witnesses. The details on each panel are below:

Panel 1:

The Honorable Lori Swanson, Attorney General of the State of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

The Honorable Michael Rothman, Commissioner of Commerce of the State of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Panel 2:

Mr. Charles Mooty, Interim CEO, Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis, MN

Mr. Greg Kazarian, Senior Vice President, Accretive Health, Inc., Chicago, IL

Panel 3:

Mr. John Thomas "Tom" Fuller, patient, New Brighton, MN

Ms. Deb Waldin, patient, Edina, MN

Panel 4:

Ms. Jean Ross, Former nurse at Fairview; Co-President, National Nurses Union; Member, Minnesota Nurses Association, St. Paul, MN

Michele Goodwin, Everett Fraser Professor in Law at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Jessica L. Curtis, Director, Hospital Accountability Project, Community Catalyst, Boston, MA

Sen. Franken is the author of the End Debt Collector Abuse Act, a bill designed to protect consumers from abusive and fraudulent debt collection practices. He is also the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. In November 2011, Sen. Franken held a Subcommittee hearing entitled "Your Health and Your Privacy: Protecting Health Information in a Digital World," which focused on the privacy implications of electronic health records in hospitals.


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