Delaware lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure that would slash $10 million in state funding to a group that advocates for patients with chronic conditions, citing poor reputation.
The state House of Representatives voted 8-2 to approve the measure after a public hearing, but it is not likely to make it to the Senate.
It has not yet been reported to the governor.
The decision came after a long series of controversial decisions by the state’s largest hospital system, the University Medical Center Delaware, including its decision to close an eye surgery clinic in 2017 and its refusal to treat a woman who was shot during a robbery at her home.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Scott Wilson, a Democrat from Newark, who represents a district in the western part of the state, and Rep. James Cavanaugh, a Republican from New Castle.
It would slash funding to the University of Delaware Eye Institute for at least four years, the amount of time that the hospital has been allowed to provide care to patients with certain conditions, including patients with cancer.
The measure passed in the House after Democrats and Republicans on the House Health Committee, as well as the governor, agreed on a compromise.
The measure would not have prevented the hospital from closing the clinic if the hospital had not taken corrective action to prevent another attack.
But Wilson said that the bill “puts the optics right” by suggesting that the institution has a bad reputation.
“There’s nothing wrong with this hospital,” Wilson said at the hearing.
“It has a reputation for quality care.”
In addition to cutting funding, the bill also seeks to change a law that allows the state to fire or suspend a hospital director who fails to meet standards for patient safety, which has drawn scrutiny for the deaths of two doctors who worked at the hospital.
Under the new law, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be able to suspend the director without cause for up to two years, and the state would have the authority to fire the director for cause.
The health department would also have the power to revoke the director’s license to practice medicine in Delaware, but the measure would limit the director to three years in office and require that he serve out his term in office.
The director would have to pay back any money that the state spent on his or her hospital care, the proposal said.
The legislation also calls for a review of how to manage patients with preexisting conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, and a review to see if it is possible to reduce their costs.
The bill would also provide an independent review of the system’s staffing levels.
The proposal comes as other states, including Washington, are considering plans to close or alter the nation’s largest healthcare system.
New York and California have proposed to shutter the system, while Ohio has proposed to reduce the number of doctors on the rolls and require all residents to have health insurance by 2020.