Fairview is confident on antitrust issue

by Lynne Kozarek

State Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III called on the University and Fairview Health System on Friday to seek exemption from Minnesota antitrust laws for the merger between University Hospital and Fairview.
Minnesota antitrust laws are aimed at protecting consumers from unfair business practices made possible when companies gain too much dominance in the marketplace. An exemption for the University-Fairview merger would require public review by Minnesota’s health department.
Humphrey encouraged the merger participants to seek antitrust exemption in a letter to Peter Benner, director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 6.
Ruth Bettendorf, former head of AFSCME Local 1164, which represents many University Hospital workers, said the University and Fairview should follow Humphrey’s advice and file for an antitrust exemption.
“If they don’t file, it’s their choice,” Bettendorf said. “But they’re open to any kind of litigation.”
In Humphrey’s letter to AFSCME he said he hopes the University and Fairview will take part in the antitrust exemption process.
“My view is that hospital mergers need the kind of broad searching review of issues like access, quality and cost that (the antitrust exemption) statute provides,” Humphrey said.
Fairview issued a statement Sunday saying it does not intend to submit the Fairview-University merger to the antitrust exemption process.
Fairview also said it was confident that the merger does not violate state or federal antitrust laws. Fairview said the merger will promote competition and benefit consumers.