CHICAGO - Minneapolis-based Allina Hospitals and Clinics expressed surprise late last week at the Minnesota attorney general's decision to file a lawsuit against the system over the credit-card like interest rates it charges on medical debts, saying it had already decided to lower those rates.

Attorney General Lori Swanson filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court, alleging that the health care system has violated state usury laws by levying an interest rate of up to 18% on the unpaid bills of patients. The state's usury law caps interest rates at 8% on such debts, according to the attorney general.

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