Minnesota hospitals, systems in trouble if current bills become law

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Minnesota is fortunate to have among the most successful and innovative health care ecosystems in the nation. We have skilled, experienced caregivers, responsible stewardship of our nonprofit health care resources, and a statewide cultural commitment to individual and community health and well-being. Over many decades we have worked in partnership with the state to address societal health risks and forge better health outcomes for all.

That was never more evident than three years ago when we confronted the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the state turned to our hospitals and clinics to respond to the greatest public health crisis of our age. In a true team effort among nurses, physicians, technicians, team leaders and countless health care workers of all kinds, Minnesota’s hospitals pivoted to take on the daunting work of treating thousands of patients, setting up massive testing programs and, by December 2020, leading the largest vaccination effort in state history.

Now, as the national public health emergency comes to an end, Minnesota’s hospitals and health care systems are confronting their worst financial environment in decades while a historic health care worker shortage is straining already strapped systems. Despite this reality, Minnesota’s Legislature is on the verge of passing several new laws that together will make the crisis worse.

If these bills pass as they are written, Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals are in trouble. This is not hyperbole. These proposals would negatively impact hospital care including mandating new committees to determine the day-to-day management of our hospitals, handing decisionmaking authority for care delivery to external lawyers, fixing prices for hospital care, and limiting flexibility for health care partnerships. Together, these proposals will worsen an already unsustainable path for the future of hospitals in our state, endanger access to care, and may spell the beginning of the end of Minnesota’s nonprofit hospital model.

The reality is that our hospitals simply do not have sufficient resources. We all agree that Minnesota needs solutions to workforce and financial issues, but the current bills that mandate cumbersome staffing committees, create a pricing oversight commission and endanger our ability to partner with each other to ensure the future of our statewide system of care are the wrong approach. They will instead raise care costs inside and outside of hospitals, impose additional penalties on hospitals and put high-quality care further out of reach for many Minnesotans.

Patients will have to go farther and wait longer for care at hospitals. State-mandated oversight committees will delay care by burdening hospitals and health systems with administrative work, additional costs and unnecessary mandates, taking health care providers away from their patients. Thousands of patients may be denied care if hospitals cannot admit them due to unnecessary mandates. Patients with heart attacks, strokes, surgical needs and trauma would face increasing roadblocks to care.

This isn’t what responsible stewardship of our limited health care resources looks like.

Going down this road would lead to a grim future where hospitals are told to do more with less, more health care providers leave the profession and communities suffer because their local hospitals will not have the flexibility to meet their needs.

Solving our hospitals’ financial and workforce challenges requires a delicate balance of standards and flexibility to address community health needs in real-time. Instead of creating barriers to care, there are far more productive efforts the Legislature can undertake to turn the tide in health care, including expanding the nursing education loan forgiveness program and investing in education efforts that support the next generation of caregivers.

These past three years demonstrated how the people of Minnesota’s hospitals work together with the state to create solutions that work for the health of all Minnesotans. We can create better ways to ensure that our health care system can continue to provide our patients the highest level of care. As the legislative session nears its end, we urge policymakers to take the time to carefully review these proposed bills and consider their impact on Minnesota’s not-for-profit hospitals, health care systems and, most important, the patients we serve. By working together, we can improve the health care landscape in Minnesota.

This statement was submitted on behalf of:

Richard Ash, CEO, United Hospital District

Patti Banks, CEO, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital

Stacy Barstad, senior director, Sanford Tracy Medical Center

Joel Beiswenger, president and CEO, Astera Health

Lisa Bjerga, president and CEO, Lakewood Health System

Erik Bjerke, CEO, Madison Healthcare Services

Rick Breuer, CEO and administrator, Community Memorial Hospital

Bradley Burris, CEO, Pipestone County Medical Center

Brian Carlson, executive director, Sanford Thief River Falls Medical Center

Kevin Croston, MD, CEO, North Memorial Health

Teresa Debevec, CEO and administrator, Cook Hospital and Care Center

Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO, Hennepin Healthcare

Karla Eischens, president and CEO, Sanford Bemidji

Gianrico Farrugia, MD, president and CEO, Mayo Clinic

Bill Gassen, CEO, Sanford Health

Jeffrey Gollaher, CEO, Hendricks Community Hospital Association

Marc Gorelick, MD, president and CEO, Children’s Minnesota

Amy Hart, CEO, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

James Hereford, president and CEO, Fairview Health Services

David Herman MD, CEO, Essentia Health

Chuck Hofius, CEO, Perham Health

Ken Holmen, MD, president and CEO, CentraCare

Kristin Jacobson, CEO, Johnson Memorial Health Services

Barbara Joers, president and CEO, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare

Thomas Kooiman, administrator, Avera Granite Falls

Ben Koppelman, president, CHI St. Joseph’s Health

Stacey Lee, vice president and administrator, Ridgeview Medical Center

Jon Linnell, CEO, North Valley Health Center

Eric Lohn, co-president/CEO, St. Luke’s Duluth

Tammy Loosbrock, senior director, Sanford Luverne Medical Center

Brian Lovdahl, CEO, CCM Health

Kent Mattson, CEO, Lake Region Healthcare

Kerrie McEvilly, CEO, Stevens Community Medical Center

Shelby Medina, CEO, Windom Area Health

Paula Meskan, CEO, River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic

Carrie Michalski, president and CEO, RiverView Health

Greg Miner, CEO, Appleton Area Health

Bill Nelson, CEO, Mille Lacs Health System

Keith Okeson, president and CEO, LifeCare Medical Center

Dan Olson, MD, executive director, Sanford Health Network

Robert Pastor, CEO, Rainy Lake Medical Center

Michael Phelps, president & CEO, Ridgeview Medical Center

Jim Root, administrator, Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Clinics

Allan Ross, CEO, Ortonville Area Health Services

Greg Ruberg, president and CEO, Lake View Hospital

Aaron Saude, CEO, Bigfork Valley Hospital

Dawn Schnell, senior director, Sanford Jackson Medical Center

Luke Schryvers, CEO, Murray County Medical Center

Rachelle Schultz, president and CEO, Winona Health

Kevin Sellheim, administrator, Sleepy Eye Medical Center

Lisa Shannon, CEO, Allina Health

Lori Sisk, senior director, Sanford Canby Medical Center

Steve Smith, president and CEO, CHI St. Gabriel’s Health

Jeff Stampohar, president, CHI LakeWood Health

Kirk Stensrud, CEO, Glacial Ridge Health System

Debbie Streier, regional president and CEO, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center

Andrea Swenson, CEO, Kittson Healthcare

Randy Ulseth, CEO, Welia Health

Steve Underdahl, president and CEO, Northfield Hospital and Clinics

Carl Vaagenes, CEO, Alomere Health

Nick Van Deelen, MD, co-president/CEO, St. Luke’s Duluth

Kurt Waldbillig, CEO, Meeker Memorial Hospital and Clinics

Andrea Walsh, president and CEO, HealthPartners

David Walz, CEO, Madelia Health

Jennifer Weg, executive director, Sanford Worthington Medical Center

Tim Weir, CEO, Olmsted Medical Center

Ken Westman, CEO, Riverwood Healthcare Center

Kimber Wraalstad, CEO and administrator, North Shore Health

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