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Lawmakers wary of U of Kansas Health, Liberty Hospital partnership

Missouri and Kansas lawmakers are expressing concerns about a proposed partnership between University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City (Kan.) and Liberty (Mo.) Hospital, the Kansas Reflector reported Dec. 11. 

Liberty Hospital's board in October voted to pursue a partnership with the health system. Through the proposed partnership, Liberty would have the opportunity to expand services and improve the patient experience with greater access to treatments and specialists, the hospital said in a news release. U of Kansas Health would benefit by growing its presence in Northwest Missouri.

Among the Missouri lawmakers who have come out against the deal is state Sen. Greg Razer, who pre-filed a bill that would halt the proposed partnership, according to the Reflector. The bill would prohibit hospital boards from partnering with an out-of-state health system "operated by an institution of higher education" without voter approval.

Mr. Razer said he is concerned the partnership would take healthcare dollars away from Missouri to "prop up Kansas" and that it would be a recruiting tool for Lawrence-based University of Kansas.

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson is one of the lawmakers on that side of the state line who are concerned by the potential deal, the report said.

U of Kansas Health is governed by the U of Kansas Hospital Authority, a board established by state statute, primarily appointed by the governor and affiliated with the U of Kansas School of Medicine, according to the report. The health system has not been owned by the state in 25 years and does not receive state or local tax dollars. It currently operates more than a half dozen clinics in Missouri.   

A U of Kansas Health spokesperson told the news outlet, "The patients and families we serve and those Liberty Hospital serves are looking for the best possible healthcare close to home regardless of state lines. They come to our health system because they need answers and we can help them. We are proud to offer the care they need."

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