Attorney General Ellison reviewing two proposed healthcare mergers, seeks community input

Evaluating mergers between Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System and between St. Luke’s Duluth and Aspirus Health under state and federal law, including Minnesota’s new health care entity transaction Law

October 3, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office is reviewing the proposed mergers between healthcare systems Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System and between healthcare systems St. Luke’s Duluth and Aspirus Health to evaluate the transactions’ compliance with Minnesota law. Under state law, the Attorney General is the chief civil regulator of charities and nonprofits in Minnesota and has authority to enforce state and federal antitrust laws. The Attorney General has additional authority to review healthcare transactions under Minn. Stat. 145D.01, Minnesota’s new health care entity transaction law, which among other provisions authorizes the Attorney General to consider whether a healthcare transaction is in the public interest, and seek court intervention if the Attorney General finds that it is not.

As part of his Office’s review of the transactions, Attorney General Ellison is seeking input from the public. The Attorney General’s office will host a community meeting in Duluth on October 25, 2023 at the University of Minnesota Duluth Campus from 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Members of the public who are interested in speaking at the meeting can sign up here. Advance sign-up is not required, however. 

Additionally, a Community Input Form on the Attorney General’s Office website provides another way for Minnesotans to offer their input on the proposed mergers. Minnesotans may also offer input by calling the Attorney General’s Office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota). 

"Every Minnesotan deserves high-quality healthcare that they can afford, access, and depend on, and every Minnesotan deserves the opportunity to provide input on healthcare transactions that affect them,” said Attorney General Ellison. “As I review these mergers to ensure they comply with state and federal law, I want to hear from the public, because Minnesotans’ thoughts and concerns are an essential part of our review.” 

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will incorporate the information the public provides into its review of the proposed mergers. The public’s input will also help determine opportunities for public policy or regulatory improvements. Information the public submits as part of the Attorney General’s review will generally be treated as “protected not public” data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.  

Background on proposed Essentia/Marshfield and St. Luke’s/Aspirus mergers 

On July 27, 2023, Essentia and Marshfield announced that they had signed a letter of intent to merge their two large hospital systems. Essentia Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Duluth, serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. It has 14 hospitals, 78 clinics, six long-term care facilities, six assisted-living and independent-living facilities, seven ambulance services and one research institute. These operations are run by approximately 15,000 employees, including 2,200 physicians and advanced practitioners. Marshfield Clinic Health System is headquartered in Marshfield, Wisconsin and serves patients primarily in central and northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, primarily through its 60 Marshfield Clinic locations and 11 hospitals. It has more than 12,000 employees, including more than 1,600 providers comprising 170 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs.  

On July 12, 2023, St. Luke’s Duluth and Aspirus Health announced that they had signed a letter of intent to merge their hospital systems. St. Luke’s Duluth is a nonprofit healthcare system based in Duluth, Minnesota serving patients in northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It has 2 hospitals, over 40 primary and specialty care clinics and 2 pharmacies run by approximately 3,000 employees, including nearly 300 physicians and advanced practice clinicians. Aspirus Health is headquartered in Wausau, WI serving patients in upper Michigan and central and northern Wisconsin. It has 17 hospitals, 75 clinics, home health and hospice care, pharmacies, critical care and air-medical transport, medical goods, and nursing homes run by 11,000 employees.