Topeka Despite an earlier veto by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas House on Thursday again put restrictions on Kansas University Medical Center's plan to form an affiliation with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital.
The House added to its proposed final budget a provision that would require KUMC to settle differences with its partner KU Hospital before it could reach an agreement with St. Luke's. And it would require that if KU becomes a national cancer treatment center that it would have to make KU Hospital and KUMC the designated center.
The proposal by state Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, was approved with bipartisan support, 88-27, just three days after Sebelius, also a Democrat, vetoed a budget proviso that would have given KU Hospital final say over any deal between KUMC and St. Luke's. Burroughs said his measure was "less onerous" than the one Sebelius vetoed.
KU Hospital has maintained that the proposed affiliation between KUMC and St. Luke's would hurt it because it competes directly with St. Luke's.
On Thursday, House members said KU Hospital and KUMC belonged to Kansas taxpayers and needed protection.
"The KU Medical Center belongs to you," said state Rep. Mike Peterson, D-Kansas City. "It doesn't belong to Jackson County, Missouri, it doesn't belong to Kansas City, Missouri, and doesn't belong to St. Luke's hospital."
State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, agreed. "Why are we pushing for a Missouri facility to carry the KU name?" she asked.
But other legislators defended KUMC's negotiations with St. Luke's as necessary to improve health care in both states and eventually attain designation as a national cancer center.
"I'm not quite sure what we're afraid of," said state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. "We all stand to benefit from this."
Other opponents said the proposal would needlessly micromanage negotiations and could hinder KUMC's ability to work with other health care institutions.
But House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said the budget proviso would prod KU Hospital and KUMC, which have been fighting all year, into negotiations.
"The Burrough's amendment tells them it is time to get this done and everybody come to the table," Neufeld said.
House members also added $6.6 million to the budget to increase the number of residents and faculty at KUMC's Wichita operations. The House budget was advanced on a voice vote and will face a final vote today.