Missouri Independent reported on Feb. 12 that lawmakers are working to stop a proposed merger between Liberty Hospital and the University of Kansas Health System based in Kansas City. State Sen. J.R. Claeys has introduced a bill in Kansas that requires the KU Health System to get legislative approval before investing in facilities outside of Kansas. Meanwhile, in Missouri, state Sen. Greg Razer is sponsoring a bill to prevent Missouri hospitals from partnering with an out-of-state health system associated with a higher education institution, requiring that such collaborations secure approval from a supermajority of voters to move forward.
Dennis Carter, president of the Liberty Hospital board, expressed concerns at a Missouri Senate committee meeting that legislative intervention against the merger could result in the acquisition of Liberty Hospital by a chain, potentially leading to the closure of its labor and delivery center and level 2 trauma center. Liberty Hospital leaders started seeking a health system partnership in May to address the increasing demand in the Kansas City suburbs, north of the Missouri River. By October, they had chosen the University of Kansas Health System. However, this possibility is being met with resistance from lawmakers in both states who are concerned about maintaining local control over healthcare facilities and services.