Proposed Hospital System Mergers

On May 26, 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed into law New Requirements for Certain Health Care Entity Transactions. The below proposed mergers are subject to the new reporting requirements for certain health care entity transactions.

Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System

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, MN 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. In addition to Duluth, Essentia’s Minnesota hospital systems are located in Ada, Aurora, Brainerd, Deer River, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Graceville, Moose Lake, Sandstone, and Deer River. It also has hospitals serving Minnesotans in bordering towns of Fargo, ND and Superior, WI.

Marshfield Clinic Health System is headquartered in Marshfield, WI and serves patients primarily in central and northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It has more than 12,000 employees, including more than 1,600 providers comprising 170 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. Primary operations for the health care system include more than 60 Marshfield Clinic locations, 11 hospitals, including in addition to the Marshfield location, in Beaver Dam, Eau Claire, Ladysmith, Park Falls, Rice Lake, and Weston, WI.

On January 5, 2024, Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System announced they will no longer pursue a merger.

St. Luke’s Duluth and Aspirus Health  

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. Locations in addition to Duluth include Hermantown, Hibbing, Moose Lake, Mountain Iron, Silver Bay, and Two Harbors, MN as well as Ashland and Superior, WI.

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. Hospital locations in Wisconsin include Antigo, Eagle River, Medford, Merrill, Ontonagon, Portage, Rhinelander, Stanley, Stevens Point, Tomahawk, Wausau, Wisconsin Rapids, and Woodruff.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced he has reached a five-year oversight agreement with Wisconsin-based Aspirus Health and St. Luke’s Hospital of Duluth, requiring Aspirus to provide to the Attorney General annual reports on the commitments the systems have made in their merger.  These reports will help establish whether Aspirus is following through on its commitments to St. Luke’s and help the Attorney General’s Office determine whether the transaction continues to be compliant with charities and antitrust laws and in the public interest, pursuant to Minn. Stat. 145D.01, the new Health Care Entity Transaction law.

Community Input Opportunities

The Attorney General is interested in hearing how these and other proposed transactions may affect Minnesotans. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office uses the information submitted by the public to evaluate the proposed transactions under existing laws, as well as to determine opportunities for changes or improvement to public policy, regulation, or state or federal law. Comments or information that members of the public submitted as part of these civil investigations are generally treated as “protected nonpublic data” under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

Community Input Form and Phone Option

Individuals can also complete this Health Care Transactions Community Input Form to provide written feedback. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office about this proposed merger and other health care entities through the Community Input Form or by phone at (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).