Topeka House Speaker Melvin Neufeld on Friday called on the Kansas Board of Regents to reopen partnership negotiations between Kansas University Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital.
The regents didn't respond to Neufeld's specific suggestions, but a spokesman said the board has stayed on top of the negotiations.
"KUMC has continually updated the board throughout the process, and the board expects to receive continued briefings on the specifics surrounding these proposals," regents spokesman Kip Peterson said.
"We appreciate the speaker's recognition that this is an issue for the board and KUMC to work closely together on," he said.
Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said the regents needed to make sure the agreement protected "the medical education system in Kansas."
Neufeld and several other lawmaker and medical groups have raised concerns about the recent proposed agreement among KU Medical Center, St. Luke's and the KU Hospital.
They say they fear that the proposal could hurt KU Hospital, which is the KU Medical Center's primary hospital and competes with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's, and send Kansas tax dollars to Missouri.
KU officials have claimed the agreement is necessary to train more doctors and grow the patient base to become a nationally recognized cancer center and a leader in life sciences.
KU Medical Center affiliation
- Housecommittee questions KU leaders about proposed Med Center affiliations(02-08-07)
- 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)
"The best academic medical centers must expose their students to many types of patients, procedures and styles of care in order to produce the very best physicians," KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said earlier this week as he testified before a legislative committee.
Neufeld said the regents, which oversees higher education, should postpone the contract deadline of March 31, reopen negotiations and allow KU Hospital and KU Medical Center in Wichita more input in the negotiations.
"I really prefer these issues not have to be addressed by the Kansas Legislature," he said. But, he added, if the regents fail to oversee the negotiations, he will seek passage of his bill that would require legislative approval of any partnerships between KU Medical Center and other groups.
Neufeld said one of his specific concerns was that by allowing KU-trained interns to transfer to St. Luke's, the number of general practice doctors would decrease at the KU Medical Center in Wichita, which is where many rural communities recruit their doctors.
Neufeld warned that failure of the regents to change the negotiations "will necessitate the Legislature to take action."
In the past, regents members have said they were staying out of the way of the negotiations, and didn't want to micromanage the university.