In Minnesota, two large health systems — HealthPartners and Park Nicollet — plan to merge, creating the second biggest system in Minnesota — just behind the Mayo Clinic.(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Health Partners, Park Nicollet Plan Merger In the largest health care merger seen locally in more than a decade, insurer and east metro hospital operator HealthPartners is combining with the west metro’s Park Nicollet Health Services to form a Twin Cities powerhouse of more than 20,000 employees and about 1,500 multispecialty physicians. The merger announced Thursday, Aug. 30, marks something of a push westward for Bloomington-based HealthPartners, which in the past decade has built a network of hospitals in the east metro and western Wisconsin. The merger is not expected to lead to any layoffs or clinic closings, the health systems said (Snowbeck, 8/30).Minneapolis Star Tribune: 2 Giants — HealthPartners, Park Nicollet — Plan To MergeTwo of the Twin Cities’ most prominent health care systems, HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, have signed an agreement to join operations, marking the biggest merger in the local health care market in two decades. If approved by state and federal regulators, the merger would create the state’s second-largest hospital system by revenue, behind the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and combine two organizations with storied traditions in Twin Cities medical care. Patients shouldn’t notice immediate differences, as the affected hospitals and clinics will retain the names of their respective organizations. But the move could presage a new wave of consolidation as Minnesota hospitals and clinic systems realign their services and jockey for market share in the face of ever-rising cost pressures and the rollout of federal health reform (Crosby, 8/30).In other news, fines and sales make news at hospitals around the United States.San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area Hospitals Fined For ViolationsSix Bay Area hospitals were among the 14 California hospitals fined Thursday by the state Department of Public Health for violations serious enough to severely injure or kill patients. The Bay Area hospitals cited were the Kaiser Permanente hospitals in San Francisco and South San Francisco, St. Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center, both in San Francisco, Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto and Menlo Park Surgical Hospital. State public health officials issued a total of $825,000 in fines to the 14 medical centers. Hospitals, which can appeal the fines, are charged $50,000 for a first violation, $75,000 for a second and $100,000 for a third and subsequent violations (Colliver, 8/30).The Associated Press: Marquette Hospital Sale To For-Profit Company OK’dMichigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he has approved the $483 million sale of the nonprofit Marquette General Hospital to the for-profit Duke Lifepoint LLC. Schuette said Thursday that an eight-member team examined the deal. He says the deal lets the Upper Peninsula hospital pay off $100 million in long-term debts and unfunded pension liabilities (8/30). 2 Large Minn. Health Systems Announce Merger This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.