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Minnesota attorney general issues subpoenas as Sanford-Fairview merger talks inch forward

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has issued subpoenas to Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, its CEO Bill Gassen confirmed at a March 8 state Senate hearing. Mr. Ellison's investigation into Sanford's proposed merger with Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services has entered a new phase — one that requires sworn statements from certain individuals involved, MPR News reported. 

At the same meeting, state lawmakers discussed the University of Minnesota Medical Center's future. The university has requested that Fairview — which currently runs the hospital — return it to state control, concerned that a large out-of-state entity might interfere with its academic mission. On March 6, Mr. Gassen and Fairview CEO James Hereford endorsed that idea, although they disagree with the university on whether a sale or mere transfer is in order. 

"We're not proposing that these buildings be sold on an auction block to us or anyone else that happens to walk by," Myron Frans, senior vice president for finance and operations at the university, said at the meeting. "What we're saying is they need to be transferred to the University of Minnesota as part of a negotiated strategic partnership."

State lawmakers agreed that the university's facilities should be returned to their control. 

"As the land grant institution, the University of Minnesota and all of its assets are obligated, both legally and morally, to be used for the benefit of our state and our citizens," former Gov. Mark Dayton said. "They should be solely governed, directed and funded by its Board of Regents and this legislature. To allow any other arrangement would be a terrible betrayal of the trust bestowed by the people of Minnesota." 

"As far as I know there is no precedent, there is no precedent, for an out-of-state entity owning or controlling a state's flagship medical academic hospital, or academic medical center," former Gov. Tim Pawlenty agreed. 

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