Proposed $14B merger could cut services and increase prices, Minnesota nurses claim

The Minnesota Nurses Association has released a report arguing that the proposed merger between Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services and Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health could lead to decreased services and higher prices.

The 24-page report includes a review of studies on the effects of healthcare mergers on patients, workers and communities, as well as a review of corporate policies pushed by Sanford and Fairview executives, including closures of facilities and units with their focus on the bottom line.

"Mergers make our hospitals less accountable and less connected to communities, resulting in higher costs for patients, reductions in services and increased burnout for healthcare workers," according to the report. "We urge the attorney general and elected officials to continue to act in the interest of patients, workers and their communities and prevent the further entrenchment of corporate healthcare in Minnesota."

The report argues that mergers result in decreased job satisfaction and increased burnout for healthcare workers, particularly emotional exhaustion. These workforce issues affect not only nurses, but physicians and other healthcare workers at a time when Greater Minnesota is especially in need of healthcare providers.

Large mergers like the proposed Sanford-Fairview deal can lead to higher costs for patients, no increase in service and often "worsening patient experiences," according to the report, which argues that these effects occur when hospital chains monopolize local healthcare services, close clinics or units and push hospital staffing levels lower.

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