Topeka Talks between the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and hospitals on the Missouri side over possible research partnerships have raised concerns among some legislative leaders.
"We must be careful our ultimate actions are not detrimental to Kansas' bioscience initiative," Senate President Stephen Morris, R-Hugoton, said Monday.
Morris, a staunch supporter of KU Medical Center, said discussions of collaboration may have to be reviewed by a legislative committee during the interim period before the 2007 legislative session.
The Legislative Coordinating Council meets July 25 to decide what issues interim committees will study.
"We may consider this a possible topic for interim review," Morris said.
Last week, Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, raised alarms after the appointment of a steering committee of top officials from KU and Missouri hospitals and research groups to work on regional life science initiatives in the Kansas City area.
For years, officials have called for greater bistate collaboration, combining the research capability at KU Med and the clinical work done at Kansas City, Mo., hospitals such as the St. Luke's Health System and Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.
But Barnett urged caution.
"I am concerned that such a deal would result in a takeover of control and interfere with the basic mission of KU Med," he said.
Barnett, a physician and graduate of KU's medical school, said parties in the negotiations should slow down, and he encouraged the Legislature to get involved.
"We need to make sure Kansas taxpayers' money is going to Kansas projects and Kansas improvements," said Barnett, who also is running for the Republican nomination for governor.
David Adkins, vice chancellor for external affairs at KU Medical Center, said the school would be happy to brief lawmakers on the issues.
"This is a process in its very early stages," Adkins said. "No decisions have been made, and we are considering everyone's input and counsel, and that would include any legislator."
He said the medical school would never enter into a partnership that would hurt KU Hospital.
"We have been partners with the University of Kansas Hospital for a century and have no interest in pursuing any new partnerships that would compromise the excellence of the University of Kansas Hospital," he said.
Nicole Corcoran, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, said the governor had been briefed on the discussions.
"The parties all stressed to the governor that these are very preliminary discussions and that they hope the discussions do not become 'politicized' in any way because there is great potential for KU Med, for Kansas and for all the people of Kansas and the region," Corcoran said.