State legislators are currently working to prevent the proposed merger between Liberty Hospital in Missouri and the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City. The Missouri Independent reported on February 12 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 in facilities 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 connected to higher education institutions.
The bill proposed by Senator Razer specifically requires a supermajority of voters to approve any partnerships between Missouri hospitals and out-of-state health systems associated with institutions of higher education. The president of the Liberty Hospital board, Mr. Dennis Carter, advocates for lawmakers to refrain from impeding the planned merger, which could result in the hospital being acquired by a chain and leading to the closure of its labor and delivery center and level 2 trauma center. However, he also expresses concerns about the hospital becoming part of a for-profit system rather than a community-oriented institution originally intended.
During a Missouri Senate committee meeting, Mr. Carter spoke about these risks and emphasized that Liberty Hospital was exploring partnerships with health systems due to growing demand for healthcare services in the northern Kansas City suburbs. By October, it was revealed that the University of Kansas Health System was emerging as their preferred partner, but this potential acquisition has faced opposition from lawmakers in both states.
As such, there is ongoing debate over whether or not this merger should be allowed to proceed without interference from state legislators who may have conflicting interests or concerns about their constituents’ wellbeing.