Topeka A state legislator wants to sell Kansas University Hospital and use the proceeds to pay for repairs at regents universities and boost the state pension system.
"We have an opportunity to solve two problems that are plaguing our state," Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, said Wednesday.
Steineger said independent analyses show that KU Hospital has a market value of at least $800 million.
Lawmakers face an estimated $660 million in deferred maintenance and repairs at the six regents universities. Legislative leaders say they believe a $100 million per year increase for maintenance would eventually resolve the backlog of projects.
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System has a $5.1 billion gap between the value of its assets and its future pension obligations.
The sale of the hospital would complete a privatization process started in 1998 when the Legislature split the hospital from KU Medical Center, Steineger said.
He said he hoped legislators would "think outside the box" and consider his measure. He said most hospitals in major cities are owned by private entities or nonprofit organizations. But he conceded the idea would likely run into opposition.
Under his plan, the state would retain KUMC.
"Once you get past the emotional attachment (to KU Hospital), it's just a business decision," Steineger said.
Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, opposes the plan.
"KU Hospital is an important resource to the state and critically involved with the medical center," Davis said.