Topeka House and Senate budget negotiators this morning agreed to a measure that would give Kansas University Hospital veto power over a proposed research partnership between KU Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital.
The agreement represented the final action by the budget conference committee on the proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The full Legislature is expected to take up the $12.2 billion package later today before adjourning for three weeks.
The Senate's budget leader Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, said he didn't want the language concerning the KU Medical Center affiliation in the budget but agreed to it because House leaders would not yield. He said recent negotiations between KU Medical Center and KU Hospital have indicated they may have an agreement soon, and the need for such a budget proviso will not exist.
"That's my hope," Umbarger said.
KUMC has proposed a research and teaching agreement with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's, saying the affiliation will broaden the medical center's life sciences capabilities and help it win designation as a national cancer center.
But the proposal has been criticized by the medical center's primary partner, KU Hospital, which competes with St. Luke's.
And some lawmakers have said they are concerned that KUMC's emphasis on research and partnering with Missouri entities will have a negative effect on health care training in Kansas.
"The future of medical education in Kansas is at stake," House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said.
The proviso states that an affiliation between KU Medical Center and St. Luke's cannot be implemented until the agreement has been reviewed and approved by majority votes of the Kansas Board of Regents and KU Hospital Authority Board.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has stated that she opposes attempts by the Legislature to get involved in the affiliation negotiations. She said she supports KUMC's attempts to partner with other health care institutions.