DFLers to file bill aimed at stalling U of M hospital deal

Rep. Joe Atkins
Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, is one of two legislators filing legislation that would prevent the University of Minnesota hospitals from being owned by an out-of-state entity.
MPR Photo/Elizabeth Stawicki

Two DFL lawmakers say they're introducing legislation that would prevent the University of Minnesota hospitals from being owned by an out-of-state entity.

That move by Reps. Joe Atkins, of Inver Grove Heights, and Dan Schoen, of St. Paul Park, comes as the owner of the U of M hospitals, Fairview, has two potential suitors for a merger. The university is one of those suitors and Dakotas-based Sanford Health is the other.

Attorney General Lori Swanson convened a hearing at the state Capitol Sunday to discuss this matter. Atkins also wants the acting CEO of Fairview to testify before his state house committee later this month.

Atkins and Schoen said in a statement their legislation is an effort to allow enough time to study the impact of a merger involving the university's hospital.

"Like Attorney General Swanson, I -- and other members of the House Commerce Committee -- have serious concerns about the prospect of Fairview and the University of Minnesota hospital being controlled by a board based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota," Atkins said in the statement. "Fairview and the U of M Medical Center have gained a preeminent status and national recognition and we don't that reputation to become damaged or have any potential acquisition negatively affect consumers in Minnesota's health care market."

"If we need to pass legislation to protect our University of Minnesota hospitals, then that is absolutely what we should do," Schoen said. "The U of M hospitals are too important to our state's education system, our economy, and our health care market to not be controlled by a Minnesota entity."

Atkins sent a letter to Chuck Mooty, Chairman of the Board and Acting Chief Executive Officer of Fairview Health Services, expressing his concerns and requesting that Mooty testify before the House Commerce Committee at a hearing on the legislation on Wednesday, April 17.

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