Topeka — Kansas University leaders Wednesday faced stern questioning from lawmakers about a proposed affiliation with Missouri-based St. Luke's Hospital.
"It has raised a lot of red flags," said state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, and chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Landwehr said lawmakers support attempts by KU Medical Center to grow but added, "We think it's important that it be done right."
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said he would provide any information the committee wanted about the proposed affiliation, but he said a resolution being considered by the panel could kill KU Medical Center's efforts to become a national leader in life sciences.
"The restrictions imposed by it could easily prevent many promising and productive agreements from going forward," Hemenway said.
House Resolution 6006 urges KU Medical Center not to proceed with affiliations with other hospitals and health care institutions until the Legislature has an opportunity to review the proposals. A bill before the committee would require legislative approval for affiliations.
The committee took no action and will hear more testimony on the issue today.
In recent weeks, KU has signed letters of intent with St. Luke's Hospital and KU Hospital.
KU Medical Center affiliation
- Completetext on Chancellor Robert Hemenway's testimony
- Crossingthe line (02-02-07)
- Legislatorsvoice concern about KU Medical Center action (02-02-07)
- Universityof Kansas Medical Center / University of Kansas Hospital Letter ofIntent (.pdf)
- Universityof Kansas Medical Center / Saint Luke's Hospital Letter of Intent(.pdf)
- Statementby KU Hospital CEO Irene Cumming (.doc)
- Doctorsquestion KU Med proposal (01-31-07)
- Simons:Political 'interference' in educational matters sometimes calledfor(01-27-07)
- Proposalmandates permission for KU Med partnerships (01-20-07)
Hemenway said broad affiliations are necessary for KU to become a National Cancer Center. Also at the meeting were Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the Medical Center, and Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center.
But many lawmakers have said they are concerned that the proposal will hurt KU Hospital, which competes with St. Luke's.
Hemenway said KU Medical Center would do nothing to hurt KU Hospital, which is the medical center's primary hospital.
"This could be a win-win for everybody," he said.
He read a short statement from Irene Cumming, president and chief executive officer of KU Hospital, who said she was hopeful that questions about the deal could be resolved.
The Kansas Medical Society and Kansas Academy of Family Physicians expressed concerns that the agreement could reduce the quality of health care in Kansas and siphon Kansas tax dollars into Missouri.
Hemenway said he would never support anything that would compromise health care in Kansas or send tax dollars to another state. He said the proposed agreement with St. Luke's would expand training opportunities for medical students.
Landwehr said another concern was that KU Medical Center was resistant to legislative engagement in the process.
But Hemenway said, "We stand ready to share anything and everything with you."