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House Passes Bill Regarding Physician Termination of Patient Services

The House passed House Bill 105, legislation introduced by Rep. Kim Williams and Sen. Stephanie Hansen to address situations where a physician terminates patient services.

“I had a personal experience of a physician terminating my services in the past. I have heard from others who have experienced this as well including some conversations with legislators,” said Rep. Williams, D-Prices Corner. “If this is happening to legislators, I’m sure there are many of our constituents who are being impacted by this throughout the state.”

Rep. Williams further explained that HB 105 would protect individuals from their physician terminating services for a lack of visits, only seeing a nurse practitioner, or other reasons without notice. It would mandate that physicians notify patients 30-days prior to the discontinuation of services.

The bill wouldn’t alter requirements for physicians who close their practice, or those who pass away. Nor would HB 105 change any existing practices surrounding the transfer of medical records, which includes federal and state mandates. 

House Bill 105 – Providing Patients Notice if their doctor is terminating Patient Services Currrent Status – House Passes 40-0-1. Sent to the Senate Legislative Oversight & Sunset Committee 5/2/23
House SponsorsWilliams, Dorsey Waler, Lambert, Morrison, OsienskiSenate SponsorsHansen, Poore, Walsh
House Yes VotesBaumbach Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Moore Morrison Neal Osienski Parker-Selby Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams Wilson-Anton // Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hensley Hilovsky Morris Postles Ramone Short Shupe Smith Spiegelman Vanderwende YearickSenate Yes Votes
House No Votes – NoneSenate No Votes
House Absents or Not VotingHeffernanSenate Absent or Not Voting

Additionally, the bill would make technical changes to create consistency with those sections being amended by Senate Bill 74 of the 152nd General Assembly. Sponsored by Sen. Hansen, SB 74 establishes requirements relating to the transfer of medical records in other health-care professions.

“As my legislative colleagues and I work to increase the number of primary care doctors available to Delawareans, we also need to take steps to protect our neighbors from a surprising discharge from a medical practice, and ease the often disruptive process of moving from one doctor to another,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, who is also the Senate prime sponsor of HB 105. “This bill will give our neighbors adequate notice when a doctor is terminating their service so better ensure they can continue the care they need elsewhere without disruption.”

For Rep. Williams, the bill would also address quality and continuity of care concerns for patients who lack a primary care physician.

According to a report by the National Association of Community Health Centers, nearly a third of Americans lack access to primary care. This report also detailed that more than 100 million people in the U.S. do not have a primary care provider. 

“If a patient needed service or even prescriptions quickly, this practice would cause them to lose unnecessary care and rely on hospitals for minor services. This can cause a lot more money and put a strain on the hospitals to see actual emergencies,” Rep. Williams added. “We know the importance of primary care, especially for maintaining good health, managing chronic illness and identifying varying risk factors associated with serious medical conditions. This bill would prevent someone who needs access to their primary doctor from finding out they’re no longer a patient without warning, thereby strengthening and sustaining the quality and continuity of care for all Delawareans.” 

HB 105 heads to the Senate for consideration.

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