Lawmakers in Missouri are currently working to block a proposed merger between Liberty Hospital and the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City. The Missouri Independent reported on Feb. 12 that state Sen. 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 Sen. Greg Razer is sponsoring legislation that would restrict collaboration between Missouri hospitals and out-of-state health systems connected to higher education institutions.
In response, Mr. Dennis Carter, president of the Liberty Hospital board, 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. He advocates for lawmakers to refrain from impeding the planned merger with the University of Kansas Health System, as it is a community-oriented institution that was originally intended to provide healthcare services to northern Kansas City suburbs.
During a Missouri Senate committee meeting, Mr. Carter spoke about the risks of Liberty Hospital becoming part of a for-profit system, rather than remaining community-oriented. However, this potential acquisition has faced opposition from lawmakers in both states who fear it may lead to healthcare services being outsourced or reduced.
Overall, lawmakers must balance their desire for increased access to healthcare services with their concern over protecting local institutions and maintaining community control over healthcare decisions.