Yu of leaders M. Myron FranceSenior Vice President, Finance and Operations, Dr. Jacob TollerMD, dean of the university’s globally recognized school of medicine and vice president for clinical affairs, testified at the Jan. 30 joint hearing of the Minnesota House Finance, Policy, and Health Finance Committees. France and Tollar were invited to share the university’s position on the proposed merger of the Fairview and Sanford Health Systems, as well as outline the MPact Health Care Innovation vision for the university.
earlier this month, Frans, Toller and M Corporation Chairman Joan Gabel announced the MPact Health Care Innovation visionAn opportunity to significantly enhance the university’s leadership and partnerships to advance Minnesota’s health care and health professions, and to make Minnesotans a leader in the health of all Minnesotans for generations to come. file summary Five key points of MPact Health Care Innovation’s vision can be found here.
The prepared written testimony provided by France and Tollar on January 30 is listed below. Additional information about the university’s vision for the future of health care in Minnesota can be found at bettercaremn.umn.edu.
Jacob Tollar, dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for clinical affairs
Thank you, Chief Stephenson, Chief Liebling, and members.
I’m Jacob Tollar, dean of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and vice president for clinical affairs.
Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the Fairview/Sanford mix.
This discussion has a very large potential impact on the University of Minnesota, our College of Medicine, our College of Physicians, and the delivery of health care in Minnesota.
We are the only public medical school in the state. Our mission is to serve the entire state of Minnesota in three ways:
Education and training. We train 70% of Minnesota physicians (with a national high ranking for training rural physicians). We are also one of the few universities nationwide that also trains nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and other healthcare professionals. With manpower shortages – now and growing – your training partnership is a top priority.
Research and innovation. We are grateful for the state’s support of our research and because of that, we are now among the top tenth of US medical schools in NIH research.
clinical practice. It is the combination of all three of these missions that allows us to deliver high-quality, innovative care – and to always provide care on behalf of our patients. Through University of Minnesota Physicians, our clinical arm of the College of Medicine, we had more than 1.2 million patient visits last year.
State support is critical and has been the reason Minnesota is known for its healthcare. And the country’s leadership in expanding and improving access to and quality of care is something we are grateful to be a part of.
This background is intended to focus on what we believe goes to the heart of this discussion, which is that this is more than just a private business transaction. It is a general question that affects the university’s ability to fulfill our mission – our commitment to the state.
Because we believe this is the central question, because we don’t see this addressed in the proposal from Fairview and Sanford beyond the current contracts that run through 2026, we oppose this merger at this time.
It is also true that even with contracts in place, the governance of this merged system would immediately pass to a board of directors without representation of the university—meaning without your voice in decisions about key facilities and operations that must support the university’s mission.
We are now presented with a historic opportunity to chart the future of health care in Minnesota, and the future of the university and its medical school.
Our vision calls for us to seize the moment – to improve access to academic medicine for all Minnesotans, to enhance the practice of medicine and how it is delivered, and to ensure that Minnesota is a destination for quality healthcare.
Chairman Stephenson, Chairman Liebling, and members, I would now like to turn the matter over to my colleague, Myron Franz, to elaborate on this.
Myron France, Senior Vice President, Finance and Operations
President Stephenson, President Liebling, and members,
I’m Myron France, CFO, COO, and Treasurer at the University of Minnesota.
Thank you for inviting us here today.
On January 12, President Gable announced MPact Health Care Innovation’s vision.
This vision centers on the commitment that all Minnesotans have access to a nation-leading academic health system that makes a difference in their lives. This vision is based on five main principles:
A true integration of teaching and research in clinical care. Our approach is not only about the clinical care of the patient, but also about the education of his future physician. In simple words, academic medicine takes more time and a different approach;
University management over the main facilities. The university, not the healthcare system, should be responsible;
A public mission anchored in relationships with health systems across the state, and maximizing the reach of that mission. We recognize that the value of our research, teaching, and care is best maximized when it is shared widely with every practitioner in the state.
We have wisely and strategically acquired land for years for a new hospital. This is more than a dream, it is a requirement to ensure the quality of teaching and research that healthcare professionals demand. We need your help to make this a reality.
While we wait for the new hospital, we’ll need your help to maintain the key facilities.
The university’s mission and the public interests of the country must be front and center as we discuss this opportunity.
I’m here today to ask that the merger be delayed until Fairview, Sanford, and the University of Minnesota agree on a comprehensive plan to address the core issues in our five-point plan.
Second, in particular: to return control of the university’s main facilities to the university
And the third: designing the operational and financial relationship with our community health systems, such as Fairview or perhaps Sanford, to incentivize all parties to assist the University in delivering world-class academic health care.
We have shared these requirements with Fairview and Sanford and have scheduled a meeting with them on February 1st to discuss them.
We also want to thank Attorney General Keith Ellison who has called for the Fairview Sanford merger slowdown. The Attorney General understands that “it is more important to do it right than to do it quickly.”
Finally, we require that a final agreement be developed between Sanford and Fairview with the participation of the university and that any plan be based on a vision that will support public health and access to health care for Minnesotans. The plan should not distract the general character of the university’s main hospitals and clinics from their original objective and continuing mission.