Regions Hospital says it needs 100 more beds, health officials disagree

The health department suggests the 100-bed expansion is not in the public's interest.
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Health department officials suggest a 100-bed expansion of Regions Hospital in St. Paul is not in the public's interest.

The hospital has appealed to the Minnesota Legislature to make another exception to its 34-year moratorium on the creation of more hospital beds in the state.

It's arguing it needs the extra capacity over the next 20 years because of the aging population, rising sickness, and the fact it's drawing more and more patients from outside its base in Ramsey County.

But House committee lawmakers on Friday heard from the Minnesota Department of Health, which said the expansion was unnecessary as there are already surplus beds in the local market.

"This means the proposal would add considerable resources to the health care system, likely in the range of several billion dollars to create and operate additional excess capacity in the market," Health Policy Division director Diane Rydrych wrote, according to the House news service Session Daily.

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Regions Hospital leaders "overestimate" the need for new beds, Rydrych notes, and its expansion would take market share away from other east metro hospitals.

It's been previously reported that concerns over Regions' plans have been raised by other local hospitals, though HealthPartners – which operates Regions – argues it's already "at capacity."

If approved by lawmakers, the expansion would be the 28th exception to the moratorium on new hospital beds in Minnesota.

The last time an exception was made was to add 20 beds to a psychiatric hospital in Hennepin County.

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