One of us is new to the University of Kentucky. One of us has been here for a decade.
But we share a commitment to improve the health and wellness of the commonwealth. Kentuckians deserve access to the best experts, technologies and services without having to leave our state — whether they face cancer or heart disease, diabetes or addiction.
With this commitment in mind, we have a great appreciation for how the growth of the College of Medicine and UK HealthCare, supported by the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation, strongly supports the University of Kentucky and its mission.
That mission is profoundly important: to transform the lives of our students, to create research leading to new technologies and treatments here in Kentucky, and to bring these innovations to the commonwealth.
As there has been criticism of KMSF in this paper, it’s important to ensure the full story of KMSF is told, clarify how it works, what it does and the impact it is having to help save lives and serve the commonwealth.
KMSF, simply put, is the physician practice plan of the UK College of Medicine. It exists to support and facilitate the growth in our operations to serve Kentucky.
KMSF does not advise the dean of the College of Medicine about physician salaries. It serves as a billing and practice plan for the College of Medicine’s physicians, who practice at UK HealthCare. High-quality health care is provided to thousands of patient visits each year through billing and collection of about $200 million a year.
But $200 million is not its budget, nor what KMSF spends. Most of these dollars go directly to cover the salaries of the physicians.
A small portion of the collected amount — about 8 percent annually — is designated by KMSF’s board to support the missions of UK and UK HealthCare: facilities such as doctors’ offices, support for educational and research efforts that lead to new therapies, and initiatives that have saved and expanded jobs throughout our state.
This level of investment is part of the annual agreement between UK and KMSF, which spells out clearly how the organization is independent, but exists to support the university and its medical center. This agreement is audited every year. And KMSF’s financials, along with its audit reports, are reviewed annually by university leadership.
Yes, as the College of Medicine and UK HealthCare have grown, so has KMSF’s mission of service. That deserves praise, not derision.
Nearly 40 years ago, KMSF was created because UK’s health system was suffering. Outstanding doctors were leaving. The College of Medicine was having difficulty recruiting high-quality physicians to join us.
The creation of KMSF, based on the best practices of similar plans across the country, provided a mechanism and structure that allowed the appropriate compensation to attract and retain physicians.
The attorney general at the time, Steve Beshear, validated KMSF and its operations, opining that the foundation’s structure was independent of the university, even as its mission and charitable purpose was to support UK and the medical center.
That structure has been inarguably beneficial for UK and Kentucky. In the last 15 years alone, KMSF has invested millions of dollars in improving and expanding health care.
Without KMSF, Good Samaritan Hospital and more than 760 jobs would not exist.
Without KMSF, the Child Development Center of the Bluegrass would not have been constructed. Our community would lack a provider of child-care services for families with special-needs children.
Without KMSF, it would have been difficult to make the state desired transfer of operations for Eastern State Hospital — the region’s preeminent mental-health hospital — to UK HealthCare.
At the same time, KMSF support facilitated the growth of the highest levels of specialty services, such as organ transplant — including heart, lung, kidney, liver and bone marrow — offering the people of Kentucky in need options here in our great state.
KMSF support facilitated the growth of the state’s only National Cancer Institute designated Cancer Center, a designation given to only 69 centers across the country that provide the best options for prevention and treatment.
Today, KMSF support is facilitating new initiatives that are leveraging UK research to generate clinical trials that would not otherwise be available.
Kentuckians deserve no less.
We still have much work to do to address our serious health care needs throughout Kentucky. Fortunately, our current structure at UK, with KMSF support, is giving Kentucky a fighting edge.
Dr. Marc Randall is the president of the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation Board of Directors and is the chair of the UK College of Medicine Department of Radiation Medicine; Dr. Robert S. DiPaola is the dean of the UK College of Medicine. To read more about KMSF, go to www.kmsf.com.
At issue: Aug. 21 Herald-Leader article, “How the secretive arm of UK HealthCare spends $200 million a year”