Sanford-Fairview merger drawing more scrutiny

Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services' financial health and relationship with the University of Minnesota, also based in Minneapolis, are being scrutinized ahead of a proposed merger with Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, the Star Tribune reported Dec. 19. 

The systems announced their intent to merge on Nov. 15. The combined nonprofit system would be called Sanford Health, headquartered in Sioux Falls, and include 78,000 employees and more than 50 hospitals, making it among the largest providers in the Upper Midwest.

Fairview reported an operating loss of $248.5 million through the first nine months of 2022, the report said. Even still, it had just over $2 billion in cash and investments at the end of September, and its bond ratings from 2021 appear to suggest financial health.

The University of Minnesota factors heavily into Fairview's financial results and its quality of care, the report said. The health system provides funding to academic medicine programs at the university, more than $83 million in 2022 as of publication time.

Sanford Health and Fairview will decide in 2023 whether to continue the UM affiliation agreement beyond the current end date of 2026, the report said. Sanford has said it is prepared to continue the funding until then.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is hosting four public hearings in January for public input on the deal as part of a broader investigation into potential anti-competitive effects.

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