February 23, 2024 1:27 am
Lawmaker opposition jeopardizes KU Health-Liberty Hospital deal

Currently, lawmakers are working to prevent a proposed merger between Liberty Hospital in Missouri and the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City. The Missouri Independent reported on February 12th that state Senator J.R. Claeys has introduced a bill in Kansas that would require the University of Kansas Health System to obtain approval from the state legislature before making investments outside its borders. Meanwhile, Missouri State Senator Greg Razer is sponsoring legislation that would restrict collaboration between Missouri hospitals and out-of-state health systems associated with higher education institutions.

In addition to the bill proposed by Senator Razer, which requires a supermajority of voters to approve any partnerships between Missouri hospitals and out-of-state health systems associated with institutions of higher education, Mr. Dennis Carter, president of the Liberty Hospital board, is advocating for lawmakers to refrain from impeding the planned merger. He has expressed concerns that interference from legislators could result in the hospital being acquired by a chain, which could lead to the closure of its labor and delivery center and level 2 trauma center.

During a Missouri Senate committee meeting, Mr. Carter spoke about the risks of the hospital becoming a part of a for-profit system, rather than the community-oriented institution that was originally intended. Liberty Hospital leaders began exploring a partnership with a health system in response to growing demand for healthcare services in the northern Kansas City suburbs. By October, the University of Kansas Health System emerged as the preferred partner. However, the potential acquisition of a Missouri hospital by a Kansas institution has faced opposition from lawmakers in both states.

Despite these efforts by lawmakers to block the merger, Liberty Hospital leaders are determined to pursue it as they believe it will provide much-needed resources and expertise needed to better serve their patients and expand their services.

In summary, while there are concerns about interfering with Liberty Hospital’s plans for growth through mergers or acquisitions, efforts are being made at both state and local levels to ensure that such actions align with community needs and do not compromise quality care or patient outcomes.

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