Potential Fairview merger draws concern from Minn. AG

6:18 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Officials from Fairview Health Services and South Dakota-based Sanford Health, say they are in the early stages of a possible merger, but no agreements or formal commitments have been made.

The potential merger has Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson concerned. Swanson says she's troubled that the fate of an organization integral to Minnesota's health is being decided by a small group of hospital executives.

"These types of decisions that affect a century old charitable institutions, including our university, shouldn't be made by a handful of people representing two organizations alone," Swanson said.

Swanson says Fairview has benefited from large donations as well as tax breaks because it is considered a charitable institution and she is worried about who will oversee it if a merger occurred.

In a written response, Fairview said there has been no public discussion because it's too early. The statement went on to say "nothing will move forward unless we and our partners at the University of Minnesota believe there is merit to a merger."

The possible merger has the U of M concerned too, according to Mark Rotenberg, general counsel for the university. The U of M teaches and trains 70 percent of doctors in the state. Rotenberg told reporters during a conference call the U of M has been working with Fairview, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

"We do not have a full understanding of how a merger would affect the U," he said.

Sanford Health's CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft released a statement saying, "While very early in the process of learning about each other, it seems there is a lot of commonality in values and priorities between the two systems."

Sanford Health has locations in eight states, including a few clinics in western Minnesota.

Swanson's office has scheduled a public hearing for April 7.

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