Liberty Hospital, KU Med Continue Merger Initiative

Liberty Hospital and the University of Kansas Health System continue to pursue their plans for a merger despite some questions and opposition from some Missouri leaders.

Following announcement of the agreement last fall, a Jackson County state representative and the Missouri attorney general have questioned the move, with the legislator indicating a public vote approving the measure would be needed in the hospital district and the attorney arguing the move requires state legislative approval. A key argument involves the alleged shifting of Missouri healthcare funds to Kansas. Similar arguments have been made in the Kansas state legislature.

Spokespersons for the health systems have disagreed with the opinions and indicated they would proceed.

The final form of the merger may be a factor. Some observers have indicated there should be no problem if the merger takes the form of a lease and management agreement, rather than an outright sale. In effect, KU Health System would lease Liberty Hospital from its board of directors.

Functionally, the move is not unique. Kansas Health System is currently integrating the former Olathe Health System in a similar arrangement. So far, the Olathe center is seeing an increase in patients, while retaining all but two executive positions on its staff. The move was expected to be finalized in February.

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