Legislature could block Sanford Health's bid for Fairview Health

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Minnesota lawmakers are considering two new bills at the state Capitol that would prohibit any out-of-state entity from taking control of the University of Minnesota's flagship teaching hospital, the Pioneer Press reports.

Twin Cities-based Fairview Health Services, which now operates the U of M hospital, is currently in talks with South Dakota-based Sandford Health about a possible merger.

"We expect that discussions over the next week will provide clarity in terms of next steps and our role in any future hearings," Cindy Morrison, executive vice president of marketing for Sanford Health, said in a statement issued Monday, according to the newspaper.

Attorney General Lori Swanson, a vocal critic of the possible merger, listened to concerns about the potential deal at a public hearing over the weekend. A second hearing is scheduled for April 21.

The Star Tribune says the chair of the House Commerce Committee is calling on Fairview executives to appear before a legislative hearing next week.

The University of Minnesota has also proposed its own takeover to pre-empt Sanford’s bid.

Forum Communications notes the University of Minnesota has agreed not to accept any charitable gifts from Sanford while the potential merger with Fairview is pending.

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The health care system felt it was necessary to cut its ties with the debt collector. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson accused Chicago-based Accretive of using high-pressure strategies to get Minnesota hospital patients to pay for their treatments. The Business Journal reports Fairview began reducing its contract with the collection firm after a laptop with unencrypted patient information was stolen. Meanwhile, a Democratic Congressman from California is now calling for a federal investigation.