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Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Speaker criticizes regents on KUMC

April 5, 2007

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— The proposed affiliation between Kansas University Medical Center and Missouri-based St. Luke's Hospital continued to dominate legislative discussions Wednesday.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said he feared the agreement would result in Kansas tax dollars going to Missouri.

And he characterized the Kansas Board of Regents as being "negligent" in monitoring negotiations of KUMC.

KUMC officials and the regents denied Neufeld's allegations.

"St. Luke's will pay for the full cost of any medical resident rotating through their hospital, just as they do now," said Amy Jordan Wooden, senior director of public affairs for KUMC. "The reality is the KU School of Medicine stands to get Missouri dollars invested in it."

Reginald Robinson, chairman and chief executive officer for the Kansas Board of Regents, said the regents were kept informed about the proposed affiliation.

"As I hear criticism of the board's role, some have said, 'I've got a problem with these affiliations, and if you don't then you are not paying attention,'" Robinson said. "I would hope folks would think it is possible for the board to be fully aware of the issue and come down in a different place."

KUMC has proposed a research and training agreement with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's, saying it is needed to broaden life sciences efforts and help win designation as a national cancer center.

But KU Hospital, the medical center's primary partner, has said the affiliation could hurt it because it competes directly with St. Luke's.

A proviso in the state budget approved by the Legislature would give the KU Hospital Authority Board veto power over any proposed affiliation between KUMC and St. Luke's.

Although the proviso was hotly debated, Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said he didn't believe it would have much impact on the ongoing negotiations.

"While it would have been fine with me if the Legislature had just stayed out of the issue. ... I also think it's something of a tempest in a teapot," Schmidt said.

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