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The proposed merger that may end M Health may be the final consequence of the ill-fated agreement that created it ("AG seeking input on proposed Sanford-Fairview merger," Nov. 23).

The September 2018 agreement between Fairview and the University of Minnesota required Fairview to increase its annual sum certain payment to the university from $10 million to $50 million by 2021. It also requires Fairview to pay an annual variable amount based on its revenue. (See pp. 15-16 in the June 2018 report of the special meeting of the Board of Regents at tinyurl.com/regents-june18.)

In the high-stakes market of health system finances, the Fairview CEO was placing a bet on the drawing power of a new M Health brand name. The bet did not pay off.

By the pre-pandemic fall of 2019, Fairview was cutting staff in order to reduce its operating expenses ("M Health Fairview to cut staff, consider trims to hospitals," Nov. 23, 2019). Such staffing shortages, a significant factor in the nurses' strike this year, result in the deterioration of the quality of patient care ("Hospital crowding dehumanizing," Nov. 17).

And what will be the financial effect on patient care? As Elisabeth Rosenthal notes in "An American Sickness" (Penguin Press, 2017), the consolidation of health care systems increases the cost of health care even faster as competition is reduced.

In the end the Fairview CEO may depart with a million-dollar severance payment for his role in the demise of one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in our state. It would be far better to use such funds to pay the nurses and other front-line staff who actually care for the patients.

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville


So he wants to help …

In his Nov. 23 commentary "Homeless for the holidays: An American disgrace," Washington Post columnist Hugh Hewitt rightly decries the horrific problems facing homeless and housing insecure households. His proposed solution, however, displays thinking that ensures the problem will never be solved.

He recommends reorganizing the bureaucracies responsible for spending the currently inadequate amount of public money spent on housing. He doesn't consider investing big money in housing, of course, because that would inevitably lead to the conclusion that we need to raise taxes on the rich or sell off some aircraft carriers to fund housing. It seems Republicans would do anything to solve the housing problem but spend money. I feel the same way: I would do anything to lose weight except diet and exercise.

Tim Mungavan, Minneapolis


Look who's stirring

I found Annette Meeks' Nov. 23 commentary outlining the reasons for Republicans' resounding election losses ("Why Minn. Republicans can't win the big ones") surprisingly, refreshingly candid. It is — and should be — hard to win when, as Meeks admits, her party has no vision, no platform, nothing to offer but criticisms of opponents.

I think it fair to ask, though, why Meeks and her fellow Republicans said nothing about those obvious shortcomings until after they lost. They were perfectly willing to stay silent about, or offer diehard support for, the taint of Donald Trump and Trumpism as long as they thought they could win that way. Republican self-reflection at this late stage strikes me as a deathbed confession that leaves listeners wondering whether it's sincere or abject fear of what the future might bring when the past comes due.

Steve Schild, Winona, Minn.


In the past Minnesota was blessed with a policy-driven Republican Party that had broad appeal. Meeks' map forward can help make that possible again. I would suggest that Republican leaders can learn what works from their own past by reading the Dave Durenberger and Lori Sturdevant book "When Republicans Were Progressive." I suspect Third District U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips' success is due, in part, to the fact he mirrors many of the qualities described in that book.

Stephen Mahle, Golden Valley


What a country in which we live: Right-wing extremists deny the legitimacy of elections, while left-wing extremists deny the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. All the while, the moderate majority struggles to avoid the temptation to align with either group. It is only because moderates have mostly succeeded that we continue to thrive as a nation. May it ever be thus.

Phil Larsen, Dayton


Perhaps you've noticed?

Are the American people going to wait until we all know someone who has been injured or killed in a mass shooting before we do anything about gun control?

Beverly Everson, Minneapolis


Each year, I take a few moments before our Thanksgiving feast to reflect on all that I'm thankful for over the past year. This time, in the wake of shootings at the University of Virginia, at a nightclub in Colorado Springs, and at a Walmart in Virginia, I was eternally grateful for the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment reminds me to hug my close friends before they go to the bar — because they might get shot and never return. It reminds me to tell my sisters I love them before they go grocery shopping — because they might be slain at Walmart. It reminds me to cheer louder at sporting events and celebrate the moment — because players might take a bullet before the next one.

Guns also have a unique ability to bring loved ones together and bring out the best in the community. From the funerals and vigils to showing that we can still stand together even when bullets rip through our neighbors, nothing creates a moment of connection quite like an AR-15.

The Second Amendment reminds me to donate and appreciate my financial position. With each murderous rampage, I get the opportunity to support nonprofits like Everytown and Giffords. Or GLAAD and The Trevor Project. Or March for Our Lives. How lucky am I that I can give to causes that so regularly need funding?

This Thanksgiving, I appreciated my good health, rewarding career and my family. But I was truly thankful for the Second Amendment. Here's to you, Guns, for all that you do.

Charlie Crocker, Minneapolis