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Minnesota nurses push hospital merger oversight bill

The Minnesota Nurses Association is encouraging legislators to pass a bill which would give the state's health department power to approve or deny hospital mergers based on how they can affect patients and communities. 

The proposed legislation would require 180 days' advance notice for any proposed mergers and would allow a public input process, according to a Feb. 1 news release the union shared with Becker's. After the due process, the state's health commissioner would determine if the merger "will benefit the public good or improve health outcomes" and if those benefits outweigh "any anticompetitive effects of the proposed transaction." 

Unionized nurses have openly opposed a proposed merger between Fairview Health Services, based in Minneapolis, and Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, S.D. They said they doubt that an out-of-state health system knows what is best for Minnesota patients and are concerned about Sanford's track record of post-merger job cuts and layoffs. The University of Minnesota, whose flagship hospital is owned by Fairview, has opposed the merger, and lawmakers, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, have also called to slow it down. 

"We are thankful to Rep. Bierman for introducing legislation to put much needed guide rails on mergers and acquisitions of taxpayer-supported healthcare systems such as the merger between Sanford and Fairview Health," said MNA in written testimony submitted to the committee, according to the release. "Nurses have one primary concern: to ensure quality care for patients, which starts at the bedside and extends into our communities."

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