Minnesota attorney general seeks delay in Sanford-Fairview merger timeline

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has asked Sanford and Fairview to slow down their proposed mega-merger, saying a scheduled closing for the transaction on March 31 is coming too soon to address questions about the deal. Is.

Deputy Attorney General John Keller revealed the request during a public meeting in Worthington on Wednesday night.

Keller cited the University of Minnesota’s concern that Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services had not adequately considered the impact of their combination on the U’s academic medical center.

Fairview owns the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, which is the university’s primary teaching hospital. The health system and physicians in the U.S. jointly provide hospital and clinic services through the brand M Health Fairview.

“It’s more important to do it right than to do it fast, and that’s why the parties’ current timeline is related to the Attorney General’s Office,” Keller said. “As a result, we formally asked the parties to delay the March 31 deadline and we await their formal response.”

Keller said the Minnesota Legislature is just beginning to hold hearings on the merger. He said meetings like Wednesday’s session in Worthington — the third in a series of four events this month — are providing valuable public input.

Keller said with health systems and the public, Ellison wants to make sure the U “have their fair say”. There are also questions, he said, about how the merger could affect employees, Minnesota health insurance premiums and “civil and human rights to get health care.”

In a statement Wednesday evening to the Star Tribune, Sanford health officials called March 31 a “target date” and said they are working to provide the attorney general with “the information necessary to evaluate this merger.”

In November, South Dakota-based Sanford proposed a merger with Minneapolis-based Fairview to create one of the largest health care providers in the Upper Midwest, with about 78,000 employees and more than 50 hospitals.

During comments at Wednesday’s meeting in Worthington, Sanford Chief Executive Bill Gassen did not directly respond to the attorney general’s request for a delay. But Gassen said any slowdown in the deal would delay the benefits of the merger.

Gassen said that the educational mission of the U has not been adversely affected by the merger. He added that with the Fairview merger, Sanford has committed to fulfill Fairview’s obligations to the U of U through the existing affiliation agreement, which runs through the end of 2026.

“This leaves more than enough time for United Systems to work with the university on the terms of the repurchase of the medical center that was sold to Fairview in 1997, and determine what the future clinical relationship will look like.” may appear,” Gassen said.

“University leaders have publicly stated that this merger cannot proceed without the university,” he said. “With all due respect, yes it can.”

Earlier this month, U announced plans to reclaim its teaching hospital and then build a new medical center on its campus.

Dr. Bevan Yuh, chief executive of the University of Minnesota Physicians in Worthington reiterated the U’s argument that the merger is moving too quickly.

For weeks, the U of A has criticized the merger proposal as focusing on narrow business interests in health systems rather than the broader public question of what the combination would mean for teaching, research and patient care at the U.

On Wednesday, Yueh said that “pursuing quick approval of the merger is squeezing the public interest.”

He suggested the university might be willing to partner with the new health system, which Sanford will lead from its headquarters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But Yueh said addressing the public interest could not wait until the deal closed.

“We are asking that Sanford and Fairview slow down, commit to building an academic health system that will serve Minnesotans over time beyond 2026,” he said. “Our vision for Fairview and Sanford slows down and seizes this opportunity to design a world-class academic health system with us, does not call for rejection of the notion that Sanford will be able to combine with Fairview.” Yes. It’s a call to take the time. To get it right.”

Ellison’s office is reviewing the merger to assess its impact on health care competition as well as the deal’s compliance with state law governing charitable assets. While the review is ongoing and the attorney general has not decided whether there will be cause for legal action, Keller said the office is “waiting for sufficient information from the parties that will help us analyze the situation.”

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