Leaders propose new tax-funded institute for health care research

Jackson County business, civic and health care leaders are proposing a half cent sales tax to pay for an institute to advance treatments and cures.

The tax would raise $40 million a year for a new institute on Hospital Hill that would be a center for health care, research, service and a hub for medical jobs, they announced today.

Its world-class researchers and support staff with the best equipment would develop “truly life-changing discoveries, treatments and cures,” the press release states.

The Jackson County Institute for Translational Medicine would be a partnership between Children’s Mercy Hospital, Saint Luke’s Health System, the University of Missouri-Kansas City schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing and health studies, and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

The concept and proposed tax that would end in 20 years is to be introduced next week in the Jackson County Legislature. If approved, it could go to voters as early as Nov. 5.

Donald J. Hall, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, said: “There are great civic endeavors and watershed moments that change the course and fortunes of a community; this is one of them.”

Besides benefits like groundbreaking treatments and cures, he said, the institute “will distinguish Kansas City as a center point in America for medical innovation.”

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders called the project a visionary one that could be a boon to local health and “make a positive difference in the lives of people all over the world.”

He said he would personally put the concept and sales tax before the legislature.