Liebling proposes legislation to level the playing field for communities threatened by loss of hospital services

AUGUST 21, 2017: Today, Attorney General Lori Swanson and officials from the Dayton Administration will meet with leaders of the “Save Our Hospital” organization to discuss potential solutions regarding the pending reorganization of Mayo Clinic Health Systems hospitals in Albert Lea and Austin.

Representative Tina Liebling (DFL, Rochester), a candidate for Governor of Minnesota, issued the following statement:

Residents of Albert Lea and the surrounding area were blindsided by the news that their community would lose general medical, intensive care, and obstetric inpatient services. I sympathize with their concerns about the impact on patients and on the future of their community. They know that having these services nearby can sometimes be a matter of life and death.

An important role of state government should be to “level the playing field” between Minnesotans and powerful entities with enormous impact on their lives, but current Minnesota law does not provide protection against sudden and arbitrary reduction in hospital services. That is why I will introduce legislation to insure that no other Minnesota community will be similarly blindsided.

My legislation will provide communities with advance warning when a hospital is targeted for closure or a substantial reduction in services. The Minnesota Department of Health—which licenses and oversees hospitals—would hold public hearings on the justification for the reduction and its impact before such changes could occur.

Hospitals enjoy enormous public support, but mergers and acquisitions of healthcare providers have reduced competition and sometimes leave patients with few options. It is reasonable to require these entities to explain to the public, and to the Minnesota Department of Health, why they believe that the decision to close a hospital or reduce services to a community is in the public interest, and to give the public a chance to weigh in.

StatementLindsay Jones