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“Charitable institutions exist because of public support, and the public has a stake in their outcome,” Swanson said. “Over the last few weeks, the Minnesota public had an opportunity to participate in a dialogue about how a transaction of this magnitude might impact Minnesota patients and citizens.”
Fairview is among many hospital organizations locally and nationwide to contemplate a merger or other partnership. The most recent example in the Twin Cities became official in January, when HealthPartners, which operates a health insurance plan as well as hospitals and clinics, completed a merger with Park Nicollet.
Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., is the nation’s largest nonprofit rural health care system and operates mostly in the Midwest. Fueled by more than $600 million in donations from St. Paul native and U alumnus T. Denny Sanford, it has expanded rapidly into Minnesota in recent years, setting up a hub in Bemidji.
State Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, chief sponsor of bills that would prevent control or ownership of the University of Minnesota hospitals from transferring to any non-Minnesota-based entity, said he intends to push forward with legislation.
“Sanford just called attention to an issue that we had not previously realized was out there. Until we hear from Mr. Mooty at Fairview that there are no other secret negotiations taking place, it certainly remains a concern I think for most legislators,” Atkins said.
He said his concern was never about Sanford particularly but about, “the investment and assets that are associated with the University of Minnesota hospitals.”
Star Tribune staff writers Jenna Ross and Rachel Stassen-Berger contributed to this report.
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