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Proposed Fairview, Sanford health systems merger delayed again

Sanford, Fairview merger delayed
Sanford, Fairview merger delayed 00:25

MINNEAPOLIS -- A controversial hospital merger originally set to wrap up by the end of March -- and then extended to the end of May -- has been pushed back yet again.

Fairview Health Services, based in Minneapolis, and Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, announced intentions for a merger last November. The merger would create one of the largest healthcare providers in the Upper Midwest. Fairview and Sanford had crafted a similar deal 10 years ago, but that plan was ultimately blocked by legislators.

Attorney General Keith Ellison could block the merger the same way it was blocked in 2013, but he said previously he is not ready to do that.

On Monday, Ellison's office confirmed that, last week, they learned of plans to postpone the intended merger yet again.

"Although we are still learning the details of Fairview's plans, we agree that it is imperative for Fairview leadership to focus their attention on the critical issues facing the health system -- including its declining financial condition and its relationship with the University of Minnesota," Ellison's deputy chief of staff John Stiles said. "In the meantime, the Attorney General's investigation will continue."

A spokesperson for Fairview Health Services & Sanford Health released a statement Monday on the delay, saying in part, "We respect the thorough review underway by the Attorney General's Office and are honoring their request for more time as we continue work toward finalizing our combination. We remain confident in the benefits of the merger for our people, patients and communities and our shared vision to advance world-class health care for all we serve."

The University of Minnesota, a partner of Fairview, joined Ellison in calling for a delay in the merger earlier this year. The University also recently announced its intent to gain full ownership of existing healthcare facilities on campus that are currently owned by Fairview.

The merged system would likely be based in Sioux Falls and include 78,000 employees and more than 50 hospitals.

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