Dr. John Axtell, a surgeon in Newton, Kansas, led the charge in 1910 to develop an organization of hospitals to "promote the efficiency and economy in the management of hospitals in Kansas." The organization grew as more hospitals were added, and the first elected officers took office in 1915.
An early victory for KHA came in 1924. The Kansas Supreme Court found that hospitals could not be taxed as they were charitable organizations. KHA bore the cost of the expense of the trials, and all Kansas hospitals benefited from St. Rose Hospital of Great Bend vs. Barton County.
KHA continued to support hospitals in dissemination of legal information pertaining to hospitals, weathering the depression and dust bowl days, and collecting unpaid bills. In 1939, Charles S. Billings became the first employee of KHA. That year also was the first time the 99 Kansas member hospitals had been represented at the Kansas legislature. In 1941, the Kansas legislature passed a licensing law barring any person or organization from establishing or maintaining a hospital without a license from the State Board of Health.
In 1949, KHA established a central office, became incorporated and developed district organizations. Educational programs for hospital personnel were sponsored by KHA in such areas as food service, medical records, operating and emergency room techniques.
Frank Gentry became KHA's assistant director in 1958 and assisted hospitals with such issues as professional liability and reimbursement. In 1962, Charles Billings retired, and the next executive director, Frank Gentry, led KHA into expanding the educational program. Establishing a new allied organization system provided networking and specific, job-related educational programs to help hospital personnel, then with its 136 member hospitals, fulfill professional development needs.
KHA experienced growth in the 1970s. The first KHA property was purchased in Topeka. In 1980, staff increased to 18 as KHA strove to service members in such areas as reimbursement, data, financial planning, public relations and personnel management. Donald A. Wilson served as president of the Kansas Hospital Association from 1982 to 2004.
In 1984, the Kansas Health Service Corporation was formed as a for-profit subsidiary of KHA to provide needed products and services to KHA member hospitals and to support KHA.
In 1996, KHA merged with the KC Area Hospital Association and Associated Purchasing Services, a for-profit group purchasing company. Then in 1999, the Kansas Hospital Association and the Missouri Hospital Association formed The Health Alliance of MidAmerica, LLC, to deliver service and value to affiliated health associations and their members. APS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Health Alliance of MidAmerica, LLC.
The Kansas Hospital Education and Research Foundation (originally established in 1969) was redesigned in 2000 to identify, create and support projects and solutions that improve health delivery and support opportunities for education of Kansas hospitals leadership and personnel.
Today, various councils, committees and task forces assist KHA’s 21-member board of directors with our core functions of advocacy; education; information; networking and collaboration; products and services; and governance and operations. KHA has more than 200 members consisting of community hospitals, health care organizations, insurance companies and other health care associates. The KHA staff component is approximately 25.
The current president Chad Austin, joined the staff in 1999 and became president and CEO in 2020, continues to lead KHA toward its vision of Optimal Health for Kansans.