SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A bill requiring more regulation on healthcare transactions has passed the Minnesota Legislature and will head to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk.

On Sunday, the Minnesota House passed an amended version of House File 402 70-58. The bill passed the Senate 35-32.

A fiscal note describes HF402 as a bill that “establishes notice and review requirements for health care entities seeking to enter into a transaction and authorizes the attorney general to seek relief if a health care entity or transaction violates the notice and review requirements or is contrary to the public interest.” 

On the House floor Sunday, lawmakers debated the current state of health care and whether to expand the power of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office to oversee large-scale transactions like the proposed Sanford and Fairview merger. Lawmakers agreed more work is needed to help improve health-care systems.

In a statement to KELOLAND News, Sanford Health said it has been working closely with the office of the Minnesota Attorney General and will continue to comply with new requirements if HF402 is signed into law. 

“We remain confident in the significant benefits of our merger for the patients and communities we serve across greater Minnesota,” Sanford Health spokesman Paul Heinert said in an emailed statement. “Together with Fairview, we will make historic investments to strengthen high-quality care delivery in Minnesota, address critical workforce challenges and expand access to care for the underserved in both rural and urban areas.” 

The bill also contains sedition regarding ownership or control of University of Minnesota health care facilities. The bill bans an “out-of-state entity” from owning or controlling three specific University of Minnesota healthcare facilities. 

You can read the 15-page bill attached below.

The issue of the University of Minnesota facilities played a role in a previous failed merger between Sanford and Fairview. 

“Since the earliest days of our merger conversations in 2022, we have recognized the value of an academic medicine partnership and remain optimistic about our ongoing discussions with the University of Minnesota,” Sanford’s statement said. “We are hopeful that we can arrive at an agreement with the University that advances world-class care and best serves the interests of patients and communities across Minnesota.”

The original closing date for the merger was March 31, which was pushed back to May 31 and has now been pushed beyond May 31. The Minnesota AG’s Office has been reviewing the proposed merger. The process has included several public input meetings as well as the submission of comments online.

KELOLAND News covered a public listening session hosted by the Minnesota AG’s office in Worthington, Minnesota in January. 

The proposed merger would impact nearly 80,000 employees in the two systems. Sanford employs about 47,000 people while Fairview employs approximately 31,000 employees.