Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 7, 2005

UM Health Care issues for 2005

In speeches to their respective bodies on Jan. 5, Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) and Speaker of the House Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) outlined their major legislative priorities for the year. Both cited the need for meaningful tort reform legislation in order to improve the quality of health care in Missouri and retain our health care professionals in the state. In addition, both expressed the need to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program.

The University's request for $20 million to train and increase the number of health care professionals in the state is designed to address the significant shortages suffered in Missouri. These shortages are the result of the departure of health care professionals due to the state's current tort laws, but also the inability to train more health care professionals due to lack of funding over the last few years. The University's request for additional funding aims to deal with this problem by increasing class sizes in our schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, and allied health professions. The funding also will help increase student aid in order to offer more qualified applicants an opportunity to attend the schools.

The University also has two health-related capital project requests that guarantee the recruitment and retention of a number of highly qualified health care professionals to Missouri. These researchers will target areas that will improve the quality of health care and life for Missouri's citizens and the nation. The Columbia campus is requesting $81 million from the state to build a health sciences research center, which will provide state of the art research facilities vital to the School of Medicine's research programs in Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Immunology, and Neurosciences. UM-Kansas City is requesting $52.699 million for the completion of the health sciences building (phase I) and for the construction of the Center for Health Sciences Research (phase II). These buildings will seize the unique opportunity at UMKC to create an interdisciplinary research community to address research areas in shock trauma, chronic illnesses, women's health, and drug discovery and development.

Finally, the University and UM Health Care acknowledge the need to address fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system. Preserving Medicaid funding at its current level is of vital importance; in fiscal year 2004, for example, half of the patients seen in University Hospital's Emergency Room were Medicaid or self-pay. This resulted in the provision of $40.5 million in uncompensated care that year. Improving the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the Medicaid program is important to UM Health Care as a major provider to its clients. UM Health Care will collaborate with the Department of Social Services and the General Assembly as new systems of care coordination are considered that offer more viable cost savings and better health outcomes to the Medicaid population.

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