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AG Ellison seeks public comment ahead of possible approval of Fairview, Sanford merger

AG Ellison seeks public comment on proposed hospital merger
AG Ellison seeks public comment on proposed hospital merger 01:52

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Two health care giants are hoping to become one. After nearly 10 years, Sanford and Fairview are once again in talks about merging health systems.

It would a massive move, creating the largest healthcare system in the Upper Midwest. The merged system would be based in Sioux Falls and include 78,000 employees and more than 50 hospitals, including the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

"There's much we don't know about this merger," he said. "That's why we are doing this investigation."

Before anything becomes official, Minnesota Attorney General wants to hear from his constituents. 

"This merger is going to impact our state and we need to have a full-throated and inclusive conversation about it," Ellison said.

Tuesday morning, Ellison's Office announced its plan to host public forums to hear feedback on the proposed merger. They'll also have a number to call and a place to leave a comment online.

"We will want to know how this is going to affect workers, consumers, world communities," Ellison said. "How it's going to affect those folks – and they are in the best position to tell us how they think they might be affected." 

In a joint statement, Sanford and Fairview say public input is an "important part of the review process," and they'll continue to work cooperatively. The two medical giants add that they are "excited to transform the future of health care."

While Ellison couldn't comment on the specifics on the investigation, he did confirm that his team is looking at how the merger might impact charitable institutions and how the competition's response could impact consumers. 

Healthcare economist Pinar Karaca-Mandic said it's common to look at increased healthcare costs weighed against quality improvement. 

"To what extent is this price increase harmful to consumers, compared to some of the benefits that the merger will bring," she said. 

Before any findings are released by the AG's office, Ellison wants conversation. 

"At the end of the day, I want everybody to have their say. I want everybody's opinion to be factored in," he said. 

Leave a comment to the AG's office online here, or call (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota) to leave a message. 

With a merger this size, an investigation is standard. Sanford and Fairview hope to reach a deal next year. 

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