Editor's note: Following is the text of a letter that Melvin Neufeld, speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, sent Monday to Nelson Galle, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Thousands of Kansans and communities across our great state depend upon the health care services and medical education provided by the University of Kansas School of Medicine and Medical Center (KUMC). Thank you for your dedicated focus and due diligence in making sure the best interests and integrity of our state's higher education system and the medical education system are upheld.
As you and the Kansas Board of Regents continue to consider whether KUMC should move forward with its current affiliation negotiations with St. Luke's Hospital and other Kansas City-area health care providers, I ask you to reflect on these principles I believe should guide these discussions:
¢ No agreement should restrict KUMC's ability to join with other research or medical institutions. If anything, these partnerships should encourage more research opportunities and growth.
¢ The University of Kansas Hospital Authority (KUH) should be the designated hospital to lead to "National Cancer Institute" designation.
¢ Every partnership entered into by KUMC should increase, not harm, the quality and quantity of the medical education system in Kansas. KUH, Kansas University School of Medicine-Wichita and other Kansas hospitals should be encouraged and allowed to expand their teaching, residency and fellow programs.
Despite hearings held recently by the Kansas House of Representatives' Committee on Government Efficiency and Technology, I still have concerns about the potential partnership between KUMC and St. Luke's Hospital and what is or is not contained in the proposed agreement.
¢ Will St. Luke's Hospital provide for its share of charity care for Kansans that is currently provided by the University of Kansas Hospital Authority? If not, will St. Luke's provide compensation to KUH to cover expected expense increases?
¢ Does the proposed agreement provide for possible overflow to and from KUH for both patient and emergency care so that all Kansans continue to receive needed care?
¢ Is St. Luke's required to pay for the benefit of using the KUMC brand name? If this requirement has yet to be established, I would suggest requiring St. Luke's submit 5 percent of its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) multiplier. The KUMC brand is a valuable asset of the state of Kansas.
¢ All agreements entered into by KUMC with nonstate institutions must have exit agreements in place that lay out the dissolution of the agreements to protect Kansas interest.
There are still substantial unanswered questions about these proposed partnerships and remaining issues regarding the roles of KUMC and KUH. I request the Kansas Board of Regents bring all parties involved with these proposed partnerships together to work with a qualified arbitrator to find an agreement that is in the best interest of Kansas. Because of the looming March 31, 2007, deadline, I encourage you to get this arbitration process started as soon as possible.
Thank you again for your careful oversight of this great state asset and the impact the proposed partnerships could have on the people and communities it serves.
- Copies of the letter also were sent to Dr. George J. Farha, chairman of the board, KU Hospital Authority; Irene M. Cumming, president and chief executive officer, KU Hospital Authority; Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor, KUMC; KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway; Dr. S. Edwards Dismuke, dean, KU School of Medicine-Wichita; and Reginald Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Regents.