Archive for Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sebelius vetoes restrictions on KUMC deal

May 22, 2007


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday vetoed another attempt by legislators to rein in Kansas University Medical Center's efforts to affiliate with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital.

In her line-item veto, Sebelius said the Legislature's provision would interfere with delicate and crucial negotiations between KUMC and St. Luke's, and KUMC and KU Hospital.

"Imposing these restrictions would unnecessarily interfere in ongoing negotiations with the KU Hospital and prevent the KU Medical Center from accomplishing its core mission of educating its students, which is why I veto this proviso," Sebelius said in a statement.

The budget proviso approved by lawmakers earlier this month said that KUMC could not enter into any affiliation agreement until it completed a new operating agreement with KU Hospital. It required both sides to negotiate with each other and exercise "due diligence."

Speaker disappointed

Legislative leaders who supported the language embedded in the final appropriations bill said they were disappointed in Sebelius' decision.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, resented Sebelius' allegation that lawmakers were trying to micromanage KUMC.

He said legislators were simply trying to protect Kansas tax dollars and make sure the state health system was well-served.

"Through the years Kansans have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the state's medical education system," he said. "Kansas lawmakers are elected to make sure good public policy is enacted. That includes protecting the state's assets, which is the intent of this proviso vetoed by the governor."

Override unlikely

The feud between the medical center and KU Hospital has been boiling before the Legislature all year.

Lawmakers return today for the final day of the legislative session and could attempt to override Sebelius' veto. That would require a two-thirds majority, or 84 votes in the 125-member House and 27 votes in the 40-member Senate.

But it is unlikely there are enough votes to override the veto, Neufeld said.

KUMC leaders were thrilled about the veto.

"The governor's action today allows the University of Kansas Medical Center to move forward on a level playing field with its efforts to broaden medical education and research affiliations," said KUMC spokeswoman Amy Jordan Wooden.

KUMC leaders have vowed not to harm KU Hospital in the medical center's proposed agreement with St. Luke's.

"Our work is focused on obtaining a definitive agreement which furthers our objectives of providing more doctors, enhanced, comprehensive medical education, and more cures for patients throughout Kansas and the region," Wooden said.

Hospital concerned

But KU Hospital officials were wary.

Dennis McCulloch, a spokesman for KU Hospital, said the Legislature's monitoring of the issue had helped KU Hospital's negotiations with the medical center.

"We're concerned that this veto will actually hurt the momentum toward an agreement. We hope that doesn't happen," McCulloch said.

"It's our belief that the Kansas City community wants us to roll up our sleeves and reach an agreement as quickly as possible, and that was what we had intended to do," he said. "We thought the proviso helped us do that. We will just have to wait and see the veto's impact on the negotiations."

Sebelius allowed to stand two other provisos affecting KUMC.

One requires KU to report to the Legislature by Dec. 1 on physician work-force needs, including information about the effect of any new hospital affiliations on access to primary care physicians in Kansas. The other requires KU to report by Feb. 1 to the House and Senate budget committees on a plan to add 25 residents at the medical school's affiliated hospitals in Wichita.

Earlier in the session, Sebelius vetoed another budget proviso that would have given KU Hospital final say over any affiliation between KUMC and St. Luke's. She said then that the Legislature shouldn't interfere with the medical center's negotiations.


Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago

Going once, going twice, sold to the hospital from Missouri, one roundheeled Kansas governor.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.