Attorney General John Suthers has cleared the final hurdle before the Aug. 28 election that will decide the future of Memorial Health System.


Suthers has approved the lease agreement between Memorial, the city and the University of Colorado Health, a collaboration of University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System.


The attorney general had until Aug. 27, the day before the election to approve the lease, but moved quickly to issue his opinion before the election day.


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Suthers said that in a hospital transaction between two nonprofit organizations, the AG must decide whether the transaction will result in a “material change” in the charitable purposes of the hospital’s assets and if the transaction will terminate the AG’s jurisdiction over those assets – essentially, moving htem out of the state of Colorado.”


If neither of those conditions are met, Suthers said in his opinion, the law says that the transaction “shall proceed without further review.”


The Memorial-UCH lease agreement doesn’t violate either of those terms – it remains a nonprofit with a charitable mission and the assets are staying inside Colorado.


While Suthers was expected to approve the lease agreement, it was a necessary step before the Aug. 28 election. Ballots go out next week, and must be returned on Aug. 28. It’s a mail-only election.


The UCH lease includes $5.6 million a year for 30 years after an upfront payment of $259 million, and allows the city to keep its $330 million in cash and investments. The deal additionally promises $3 million a year for 40 years for a branch medical campus and $1.1 billion in capital improvements to Memorial’s properties.


If voters approve the lease agreement, UCH will take over hospital operations Oct. 1.