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Archive for Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Cancer center legislation perplexes KU

March 1, 2006

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— A proposal to raise the Kansas University Cancer Center to national prominence has been folded into a more complicated piece of legislation that could involve several schools, hospitals, new boards and an umbilical cord blood bank.

KU officials on Tuesday said they didn't know what to make of House Bill 2988, introduced by the House Appropriations Committee.

"The university is still reviewing it," said Keith Yehle, director of government relations.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, could not be reached for comment.

Yehle noted that Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, is scheduled to speak Thursday to the Appropriations Committee.

Jensen "will be outlining to them the mission of the KU Cancer Center and the benefits it will bring to Kansans for their cancer care," Yehle said.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has proposed spending $5 million annually to help KU secure federal designation as a cancer center.

KU has maintained the proposal simply needs legislative approval of the spending, but several members of the committee have insisted legislation be drawn up to establish a cancer center.

Last week, a group of Republicans sought to delay putting the proposed $5 million grant in the committee-recommended appropriations report, but they were turned back by a coalition of Democrats and several other Republicans.

But the new legislation would put into gear several moving governmental parts.

The bill would establish a comprehensive cancer center that would be comprised of the KU Cancer Center and other higher education institutions and health care facilities.

The measure also would require operation of an umbilical cord blood bank that would accept and maintain umbilical cord blood donations at no cost to any donor.

Under the legislation, the director of the comprehensive cancer center would be appointed by the head of the KU Medical Center.

The measure also sets up two more boards and involves another.

The comprehensive center would be advised by a new 12-member board appointed by the governor. The Kansas Bioscience Research Authority would coordinate research efforts, and a new Midwest Cancer Alliance would be formed to get the benefits of the research out to Kansans statewide.

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