Sebelius says she supports KUMC affiliation
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday said lawmakers shouldn't interfere with the affiliation proposal between Kansas University Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital.
Lawmakers last week threatened to pull KUMC's funding because of concerns that an affiliation with the Kansas City, Mo., hospital would have a negative effect on KU Hospital, which is KU School of Medicine's primary teaching hospital.
Sebelius cited Dr. Roy Jensen, executive director of the KU Cancer Center, as saying increased collaboration between KU and other Kansas City area hospitals is needed for KU to win a national cancer center designation.
She said KU Hospital had made an amazing turnaround since it was cut loose from the state in 1998 and run by an independent board.
But, the governor said, the hospital's core mission under state law is to support KUMC's education, research and public service activities. "We are now at an important next step in the progress made by the hospital, and it would be a mistake to have legislative interference in this process," she said.
House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, sent a letter Monday to the Kansas Board of Regents asking the regents to hire an arbitrator to work in negotiations between KUMC and KU Hospital.
Neufeld said KU Hospital should be designated as the lead hospital in KU's efforts to become a national cancer center. The affiliation, he said, shouldn't restrict KUMC's ability to partner with other institutions.
Rep. Jim Morrison, R-Colby, chairman of a committee that has been having meetings to air the differences, said he "respectfully disagreed" with Sebelius.
"We need to promote that which is successful, and the KU Hospital Authority is very successful," Morrison said.