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Minnesota Attorney General holds public hearings on Sanford-Fairview merger – Duluth News Tribune

ST. PAUL – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is seeking public comment on a proposed merger between Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services as his office is investigating whether the transaction would comply with state charitable and nonprofit laws.

The Attorney General’s office on Tuesday, November 22, announced plans to hold three or four public hearings on the issue to learn more about the potential impact of the mergers on Minnesota residents. One of the hearings will be held at the state capitol, Ellison said, although the others will be held in cities across the Minnesota area, possibly including Bemidji.

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Attorney General Keith Ellison

Contributed / Lisa Miller

“The main idea is that this merger is going to have an impact on our state and we need to have a full and full conversation about it,” Ellison said at a Tuesday news conference, later telling reporters, “Before we come to any conclusion about whether Das is in the public interest, we want to know a lot more.”

Ellison said his office is also taking phone calls and accepting online submissions through a form on the attorney general’s website, ag.state.mn.us/sanford-fairview/form.asp.

Sanford and Fairview announced last week that they had signed a non-binding letter of intent to explore a merger and complete a deal by the end of 2023. The new company would operate under the Sanford name and Sanford CEO. Sanford’s operating income is approximately $7.1 billion and Fairview’s is approximately $6.4 billion. According to health systems estimates as of year-end 2021, they would bring in more than $13 billion and become one of the top 10 nonprofit health systems nationwide if the merger went through.

Based in Sioux Falls, SD, Sanford is largely rural and employs approximately 45,000 people at 47 medical centers throughout the Dakotas and Minnesota. Based in Minneapolis, Fairview has approximately 31,000 employees and 11 hospitals in the Twin Cities area.

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M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center, East Bank Hospital in Minneapolis.

Contributed / Fairview Health Services

The health systems considered a merger in 2013 and drew criticism from Minnesota officials, including then-Attorney General Lori Swanson, who also launched an investigation into the potential deal. Swanson said she was concerned about tax breaks and donations from Minnesota and Minnesota residents who helped build Fairview because it includes the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center. Sanford pulled out of the 2013 merger weeks after disclosing it amid criticism and the introduction of a bill in the Minnesota legislature to slow or stop the merger.

Ellison is investigating the renewed merger attempt, and his office has raised concerns similar to those raised by Swanson in 2013. His office’s charity division is already investigating the merger, and if the Federal Trade Commission becomes involved, the attorney general’s antitrust division will work closely with federal officials, Ellison said. The Attorney General is also working with the state Department of Health to determine whether the merger is consistent with state laws and regulations related to health services.

In a joint statement, Sanford and Fairview called the input “an important part of the review process” and said they would continue to work with all regulators involved in the proposed merger.

“We are committed to keeping our patients, our communities and our staff informed as we continue this process,” Health Systems said.

While the attorney general’s office said most of its introductory sessions will be in the Minnesota metropolitan area, it hasn’t decided on all locations yet. Sanford has medical centers in Bagley, Bemidji, Canby, Jackson, Luverne, Thief River Falls, Tracy, Westbrook, Wheaton and Worthington.

Minnesota residents who wish to contribute can reach the Attorney General’s office by calling 800-657-3787 if located in Greater Minnesota or 651-296-3353 if located in Greater Minnesota. When connected, press option 2 or speak live with an analyst by calling the same numbers and pressing option 1.

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