Minnesota is fortunate to have among the most successful and innovative health care ecosystems in the nation. We have skilled, experienced caregivers, responsible stewardship of our nonprofit health care resources, and a statewide cultural commitment to individual and community health and well-being. Over many decades we have worked in partnership with the state to address societal health risks and forge better health outcomes for all.
That was never more evident than three years ago when we confronted the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the state turned to our hospitals and clinics to respond to the greatest public health crisis of our age. In a true team effort among nurses, physicians, technicians, team leaders and countless health care workers of all kinds, Minnesota's hospitals pivoted to take on the daunting work of treating thousands of patients, setting up massive testing programs and, by December 2020, leading the largest vaccination effort in state history.
Now, as the national public health emergency comes to an end, Minnesota's hospitals and health care systems are confronting their worst financial environment in decades while a historic health care worker shortage is straining already strapped systems. Despite this reality, Minnesota's Legislature is on the verge of passing several new laws that together will make the crisis worse.
If these bills pass as they are written, Minnesota's nonprofit hospitals are in trouble. This is not hyperbole. These proposals would negatively impact hospital care including mandating new committees to determine the day-to-day management of our hospitals, handing decisionmaking authority for care delivery to external lawyers, fixing prices for hospital care, and limiting flexibility for health care partnerships. Together, these proposals will worsen an already unsustainable path for the future of hospitals in our state, endanger access to care, and may spell the beginning of the end of Minnesota's nonprofit hospital model.
The reality is that our hospitals simply do not have sufficient resources. We all agree that Minnesota needs solutions to workforce and financial issues, but the current bills that mandate cumbersome staffing committees, create a pricing oversight commission and endanger our ability to partner with each other to ensure the future of our statewide system of care are the wrong approach. They will instead raise care costs inside and outside of hospitals, impose additional penalties on hospitals and put high-quality care further out of reach for many Minnesotans.
Patients will have to go farther and wait longer for care at hospitals. State-mandated oversight committees will delay care by burdening hospitals and health systems with administrative work, additional costs and unnecessary mandates, taking health care providers away from their patients. Thousands of patients may be denied care if hospitals cannot admit them due to unnecessary mandates. Patients with heart attacks, strokes, surgical needs and trauma would face increasing roadblocks to care.
This isn't what responsible stewardship of our limited health care resources looks like.
Going down this road would lead to a grim future where hospitals are told to do more with less, more health care providers leave the profession and communities suffer because their local hospitals will not have the flexibility to meet their needs.
Solving our hospitals' financial and workforce challenges requires a delicate balance of standards and flexibility to address community health needs in real-time. Instead of creating barriers to care, there are far more productive efforts the Legislature can undertake to turn the tide in health care, including expanding the nursing education loan forgiveness program and investing in education efforts that support the next generation of caregivers.
These past three years demonstrated how the people of Minnesota's hospitals work together with the state to create solutions that work for the health of all Minnesotans. We can create better ways to ensure that our health care system can continue to provide our patients the highest level of care. As the legislative session nears its end, we urge policymakers to take the time to carefully review these proposed bills and consider their impact on Minnesota's not-for-profit hospitals, health care systems and, most important, the patients we serve. By working together, we can improve the health care landscape in Minnesota.
This statement was submitted on behalf of:
Richard Ash, CEO, United Hospital District
Patti Banks, CEO, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital
Stacy Barstad, senior director, Sanford Tracy Medical Center
Joel Beiswenger, president and CEO, Astera Health
Lisa Bjerga, president and CEO, Lakewood Health System
Erik Bjerke, CEO, Madison Healthcare Services
Rick Breuer, CEO and administrator, Community Memorial Hospital
Bradley Burris, CEO, Pipestone County Medical Center
Brian Carlson, executive director, Sanford Thief River Falls Medical Center
Kevin Croston, MD, CEO, North Memorial Health
Teresa Debevec, CEO and administrator, Cook Hospital and Care Center
Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO, Hennepin Healthcare
Karla Eischens, president and CEO, Sanford Bemidji
Gianrico Farrugia, MD, president and CEO, Mayo Clinic
Bill Gassen, CEO, Sanford Health
Jeffrey Gollaher, CEO, Hendricks Community Hospital Association
Marc Gorelick, MD, president and CEO, Children's Minnesota
Amy Hart, CEO, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center
James Hereford, president and CEO, Fairview Health Services
David Herman MD, CEO, Essentia Health
Chuck Hofius, CEO, Perham Health
Ken Holmen, MD, president and CEO, CentraCare
Kristin Jacobson, CEO, Johnson Memorial Health Services
Barbara Joers, president and CEO, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
Thomas Kooiman, administrator, Avera Granite Falls
Ben Koppelman, president, CHI St. Joseph's Health
Stacey Lee, vice president and administrator, Ridgeview Medical Center
Jon Linnell, CEO, North Valley Health Center
Eric Lohn, co-president/CEO, St. Luke's Duluth
Tammy Loosbrock, senior director, Sanford Luverne Medical Center
Brian Lovdahl, CEO, CCM Health
Kent Mattson, CEO, Lake Region Healthcare
Kerrie McEvilly, CEO, Stevens Community Medical Center
Shelby Medina, CEO, Windom Area Health
Paula Meskan, CEO, River's Edge Hospital & Clinic
Carrie Michalski, president and CEO, RiverView Health
Greg Miner, CEO, Appleton Area Health
Bill Nelson, CEO, Mille Lacs Health System
Keith Okeson, president and CEO, LifeCare Medical Center
Dan Olson, MD, executive director, Sanford Health Network
Robert Pastor, CEO, Rainy Lake Medical Center
Michael Phelps, president & CEO, Ridgeview Medical Center
Jim Root, administrator, Gundersen St. Elizabeth's Hospital and Clinics
Allan Ross, CEO, Ortonville Area Health Services
Greg Ruberg, president and CEO, Lake View Hospital
Aaron Saude, CEO, Bigfork Valley Hospital
Dawn Schnell, senior director, Sanford Jackson Medical Center
Luke Schryvers, CEO, Murray County Medical Center
Rachelle Schultz, president and CEO, Winona Health
Kevin Sellheim, administrator, Sleepy Eye Medical Center
Lisa Shannon, CEO, Allina Health
Lori Sisk, senior director, Sanford Canby Medical Center
Steve Smith, president and CEO, CHI St. Gabriel's Health
Jeff Stampohar, president, CHI LakeWood Health
Kirk Stensrud, CEO, Glacial Ridge Health System
Debbie Streier, regional president and CEO, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center
Andrea Swenson, CEO, Kittson Healthcare
Randy Ulseth, CEO, Welia Health
Steve Underdahl, president and CEO, Northfield Hospital and Clinics
Carl Vaagenes, CEO, Alomere Health
Nick Van Deelen, MD, co-president/CEO, St. Luke's Duluth
Kurt Waldbillig, CEO, Meeker Memorial Hospital and Clinics
Andrea Walsh, president and CEO, HealthPartners
David Walz, CEO, Madelia Health
Jennifer Weg, executive director, Sanford Worthington Medical Center
Tim Weir, CEO, Olmsted Medical Center
Ken Westman, CEO, Riverwood Healthcare Center
Kimber Wraalstad, CEO and administrator, North Shore Health