Banner Health System, Phoenix, sued its third state attorney general this year for allegedly illegally interfering in the health system's efforts to divest more than half of its hospitals and focus its operations on Arizona and Colorado. The latest target is North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who contends the proceeds of Banner's sale of a hospital and five nursing homes in the state belong to the public because the facilities benefited from years of tax-exempt status. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Fargo, Banner says North Dakota law doesn't give the state control over the sales. Stenehjem said his office will file suit against Banner later this week. Earlier this year, Banner dismissed a lawsuit against New Mexico's attorney general after she agreed not to oppose the system's sale of 47-bed Los Alamos (N.M.) Medical Center. In return, however, Banner agreed to provide $4 million for local healthcare charities and another $4.5 million to pay off debt. Meanwhile, the health system's lawsuit against South Dakota Attorney General Mark Barnett is pending. Banner seeks an injunction prohibiting Barnett from interfering in the already completed sale of its South Dakota hospitals and facilities. -- Patrick Reilly
Banner sues 3rd state over right to sell facilities
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