KU Medical Center affiliation
- Speakercriticizes regents on KUMC (04-05-07)
- KUMCin middle of state budget battle (04-04-07)
- Legislaturehonors KU Hospital CEO (04-04-07)
- KUMCaffiliation holds up budget process (04-03-07)
- St.Luke's Hospital sets deadline for KUMC deal (04-03-07)
- Sebelius:No legislative interference (03-31-07)
- KUMCaffiliation negotiation deadline extended until May (03-31-07)
Topeka Some key lawmakers say a budget measure concerning Kansas University Medical Center's negotiations to expand research partnerships is the height of legislative interference that could endanger efforts to improve health care in Kansas.
But others say the measure is necessary to protect health care and Kansas tax dollars.
The issue is now before Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who can let the budget language stand or apply a line-item veto to it.
Asked if he wants Sebelius to veto it, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said, "I better not comment on that."
But it's obvious that Morris and like-minded legislators would like to see the measure go away.
The budget proviso states that before KUMC can reach an agreement to work more closely with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital, it must receive approval from the board of KU Hospital, which is the medical center's primary partner.
Officials at KU Hospital, which competes directly with St. Luke's, have said the proposed agreement could hurt the hospital. KUMC leaders say the affiliation with St. Luke's is needed to enhance life sciences research in the region.
The proviso language is embedded in the $12.3 billion state budget that lawmakers sent to Sebelius this week.
Sebelius has said she opposes the proviso, but when asked if she would veto it, her office said she hasn't had a chance to review what the proviso actually would do.
"Once the governor has the opportunity to do that, she'll make a decision whether or not a veto is warranted," Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.
But lines have been drawn in the sand on this issue in the Legislature.
Sen. Barbara Allen, R-Overland Park, said the proviso could "tie the hands of the KU Medical Center at the negotiating table."
But Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said KU Hospital deserves a seat at the negotiations table.
"No other entity understands the marketplace dynamics of hospitals in the area other than the hospital itself," Wagle said.
The issue was one of the most contentious during budget negotiations between the House and Senate.
The House insisted that the proviso stay in the budget, while the Senate wanted it removed.
In the end, the Senate backed down.
"I would've preferred not to have the proviso in the bill," Morris said. But, he added, "the deadline was here, and we needed to get the budget passed."