Archive for Monday, March 2, 2009

Medical campus facing funding challenge

March 2, 2009


Policymakers are trying to figure out how to fund Kansas University School of Medicine’s Wichita campus, which trains a large share of the state’s doctors.

The Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education, or WCGME, is a public-private consortium that includes the KU School of Medicine and the state’s two largest hospitals, Via Christi Regional Medical Center and Wesley Medical Center.

Last year, facing a funding crisis that officials said threatened accreditation, WCGME requested $9.6 million to remain accredited, offset reductions in Medicare reimbursements and cover costs to the hospitals. WCGME needs to expand its research capabilities to meet accreditation requirements, according to officials.

Just weeks ago, while legislators were cutting much of state government in a deficit-reduction package, they provided additional funding for WCGME.

But Gov. Kathleen Sebelius applied a line-item veto to the measure and asked the Kansas Board of Regents to make a comprehensive recommendation for WCGME funding in the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has asked for the regents to report back April 3, in time to work on the final budget package.

State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said lawmakers have been getting beat up over an unfairly framed debate.

“The last couple of years, you are either for family practice doctors being trained or not,” McGinn said. “We need to get away from that. We have to figure out how to fund it properly and how to fund it long-term.”

WCGME has been in existence for 20 years, and has approximately 270 residents in 14 physician residency programs. In the past five years, 55 percent of WCGME graduates have continued to practice in Kansas.

A recent consultant’s report said the WCGME structure was “inadequate.”

WCGME officials denounced the finding, but Kansas Board of Regents members have said the report should be used to prompt discussions on long-term issues affecting WCGME.


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