On May 5, the Minnesota Reformer issued a report that accuses the Mayo Clinic Health System of using blackmail tactics by threatening to withdraw billions in investments from the state if its corporate demands are not met to kill provisions in the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. This includes would include the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, a bill to retain and staff nurses to protect patient care.

The report is based on an email purportedly obtained by the Reformer that was sent to DFL legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz's office by Kate Johansen, vice chair of external engagement at Mayo Clinic.

The email reportedly gives DFL leaders an ultimatum over two bills that aim to increase nurse staffing levels and rein in healthcare costs: Gut the bills or the nonprofit hospital will pull billions in planned investments out of the state.

The report accuses the Mayo Clinic executive of expressing the non-profit is reconsidering its plans for new facilities and infrastructure that are “four times the size of the investment in U.S. Bank Stadium” — a $1.1 billion project. It adds that their decision is “time sensitive” and will be made in a matter of days.

“Because these bills continue to proceed without meaningful and necessary changes to avert their harms to Minnesotans, we cannot proceed with seeking approval to make this investment in Minnesota. We will need to direct this enormous investment to other states,” Kate Johansen, vice chair of external engagement.

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In light of the report from the Reformer, Mary C. Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, issued the following statement:

“The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is designed to retain nurses and improve staffing to protect and improve patient care. Every patient, at every hospital in the state, deserves to know they will receive safe and high-quality care when they walk through the door of a hospital. One of the most important provisions of this bill is the transparency it will provide for patients, with a public grade on how well hospital executives are doing to meet the staffing plans made by managers and bedside workers together.

“This desperate move by executives at Mayo Clinic Health System makes clear exactly why this bill is needed at Mayo facilities, and at every hospital in the state. Mayo executives have repeatedly demonstrated a disregard for transparency with patients, prioritizing instead their own corporate profit motives. In the last year, reporting from the Rochester Post-Bulletin revealed that Mayo sued patients for collections who should have received charity care, and began charging massive hidden fees to patients. Mayo has also been host to a virulent anti-union campaign pushed by the National Right to Work Foundation and has closed or consolidated more than a dozen hospitals and clinics in recent years.

“All the while, Mayo top executives take millions in compensation, including a 27 percent raise for CEO Gianrico Farrugia to $3.5 million a year. Now these hospital executives are attempting to use blackmail tactics behind closed doors to kill provisions that would provide greater transparency and accountability to the very patients and communities they are meant to serve.”

“Minnesota nurses and all healthcare workers expect Governor Tim Walz, legislative leaders, and all elected officials to stand with nurses and remember that they serve the people of Minnesota, not the profit motives of boardroom executives. It is time to pass the Health and Human Services omnibus bill with these important provisions intact for all hospitals, especially Mayo Clinic Health System, to provide critical transparency and protect patient care in Minnesota.”

With over 48,000 workers, Mayo Clinic is Minnesota's largest private employer.

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