GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - State House leaders say they are close to restoring funding to Vidant Medical Center in the state budget that was removed because of a dispute over who gets to name the hospital's board members.
Last month, Pitt County commissioners stripped away the nine appointments to the Vidant board that the UNC System had named for decades, giving those appointments to the hospital itself. That prompted a lawsuit from the university system and ECU, which uses Vidant as a teaching hospital for the Brody School of Medicine.
The House ended up passing a budget that eliminated $35 million dollars in extra Medicaid funding to Vidant because they said it was no longer a teaching hospital.
In a response to Rep. Kandie Smith's letter last week asking them to support Vidant, House Speaker Tim Moore and Majority Lead John Bell said there are "close to securing an agreement to restore funding for Vidant's teaching hospital and also provide additional funds requested by the Brody School of Medicine."
Moore and Bell asked Smith, who is a Democrat, for her support to override a potential veto by Gov. Roy Copper if they get the funding restored.
In response, Smith said she is pleased that the Vidant funding is a priority as the budget is worked out in conference committee negotiations.
"I look forward to voting for a budget that does not cut funding for our teaching hospital, and includes Medicaid expansion," Smith said in a statement late this afternoon. "As I have repeatedly said since the announcement of these cuts, this issue is too important to be used as a pawn in petty political games."
The lawsuit over the Vidant board remains in mediation.
NC State Representative Kandie Smith is weighing in on the proposed budget cuts stemming from the Vidant/ UNC system lawsuit.
Smith sent out a statement today urging Speaker of the House Tim Moore to rethink the proposed budget cut of $35 million from the teaching hospital for East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, Vidant Medical Center.
Smith says Pitt County, ECU, and the UNC Board of Governors have worked together for years to provide critical care to our communities and many residents are scared of what will happen if the cuts are made from the final budget.
Smith said, "The fate of our local healthcare network is far too important than this dangerous proposal by the Senate. We must stop this."