Public input wanted on Sanford-Fairview merger

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 11:50 AM CST
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ST. PAUL (Valley News Live) - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is looking for input in a proposed merger that could have far-reaching impacts to healthcare across the region.

Ellison announced on Tuesday a website and tip line where people can let their opinions be heard about the proposed merger between Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services. He is asking healthcare workers, people in rural communities, and anyone who could be affected by the merger to submit their comments or concerns.

In addition, Ellison announced that he will hold three or four public meetings around the state, most of them in communities in Greater Minnesota that would most directly experience the impact of the proposed merger. The dates, times, and locations of those meetings will be announced later and will be held in early 2023.

The merger was announced November 15, and the plans are set to be finalized by 2023. Sanford’s press release said, in part, the merger would help bring higher healthcare to all of their patients in the Midwest, including those in rural areas. A short time later, the Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation.

“I take my responsibility to regulate charities and nonprofits and enforce antitrust laws very seriously. In just one week since the proposed merger between Fairview and Sanford was announced, it’s sparked a lot of concern,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I’ve heard it directly from nurses and doctors, from farmers and rural communities, from other workers who are worried about their jobs, and from people from all over who have raised concerns about Minnesota charitable assets going out of state and want to make sure those assets benefit the public.”

This announcement comes as part of the Office’s investigation of the proposed transaction’s compliance with state and federal charities and antitrust laws. Under Minnesota law, the Attorney General is the chief civil regulator of charities and nonprofits in Minnesota and has authority to enforce state and federal antitrust laws. Attorney General Ellison’s Office has made requests for information from Sanford and Fairview to evaluate the transaction.

If review by the Federal Trade Commission is required, as is often the case with transactions of this size, Attorney General Ellison’s Office will work closely with the FTC in reviewing the transaction. In addition, the Office plans to work closely with the Minnesota Department of Health, which monitors compliance with Minnesota laws and rules relating to health care services. Under a 2021 law, MDH must also be notified within 120 days if a hospital plans to cease, curtail, or relocate any services, and MDH must hold a public hearing on those plans.

The Office will use input that the public submits to evaluate the transaction under existing laws, as well as to determine opportunities for changes or improvements to public policy, regulation, or state or federal law.

Public input can be submitted using the following methods: