Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lawmakers order audit of KUMC, KU Hospital

April 25, 2007

Topeka -- Legislators Tuesday ordered sweeping audits of the feuding Kansas University Medical Center and KU Hospital in a round of finger-pointing and political sniping.

"Members of this committee, including the chair, should subside from playing politics," said state Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, during a meeting of the Legislative Post Audit Committee.

But the chairwoman, Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, denied she was being partisan. "I didn't try to expose or ruin the integrity of this committee in any way," Mast said.

When the smoke cleared, both KUMC and KU Hospital landed under the Legislature's microscope.

Spokesmen for both institutions said they had nothing to hide, welcomed the chance to discuss the issues with lawmakers, and denied allegations made in the audit requests.

The committee ordered an audit stemming from KUMC's proposed affiliation with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital. The scope of the audits offered by lawmakers reflect the suspicion felt on both sides in the battle.

KUMC says the affiliation is needed to improve research and help KU win designation as a national cancer center. KU Hospital, which competes with St. Luke's, says the affiliation will hurt KU Hospital's bottom line, while some lawmakers are concerned the proposal will reduce physician training in Kansas.

On Monday, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed budget language that would have given KU Hospital authority over whether the affiliation could be established. House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, has criticized the veto.

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