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NURSES UNION SPEARHEADS RAMPED-UP CAMPAIGN FOR ‘SAFE STAFFING’ BILL

BY ASHLEY HUPFL | CITY & STATE

The New York State Nurses Association is ramping up its campaign for legislation that would boost its ranks, but despite substantial support among lawmakers it is unclear whether it has enough momentum to become law this year.

 

The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, which has stalled repeatedly in New York, would require acute care facilities and nursing homes to set minimum staffing requirements and nurse-to-patient ratios.

 

“To ensure the adequate protection of patients in health care settings, it is essential that qualified registered nurses and other licensed nurses be accessible and available to meet the needs of patients,” the bill text says. “The basic principles of staffing in the health care setting should be based on the patient’s care needs, the severity of condition and services needed and the complexity surrounding those services.”

 

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther has sponsored the bill in the Assembly, while state Sen. Kemp Hannon, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, has sponsored the legislation in the state Senate. The bill has more than 100 bipartisan co-sponsors in both houses, with 33 co-sponsors in the state Senate and a majority in the Assembly also supporting the legislation.

 

Despite public support for the legislation from lawmakers, opponents argue that the bill has repeatedly failed to pass the state Legislature is because it contains overly broad language and would force astronomical costs on hospitals that would ultimately negatively affect patient care.

 

Hospital organizations have expressed concern with the bill, claiming that the extra funding needed could harm some hospitals. They also argue Albany should not be dictating employment decisions. In addition, Politico New York reported that the influential health care workers union 1199 SEIU is quietly opposing the bill, despite its public support for it.

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been noncommittal. If the legislation is passed by both houses, a representative for the governor said he will review the bill.

 

In the face of such obstacles, NYSNA has held rallies all across the state in recent months to promote the bill.

“There’s no reason that New York state doesn’t have a minimum standards for care in our hospitals and all the studies show that the number of registered nurses that you have available in a hospital is directly related to a patient’s mortality and morbidity,” NYSNA Executive Director Jill Furillo said at a recent City & State event. “The fact that we don’t have standards like that in New York state makes no sense at all and we need to get that legislation passed.”

The New York State Nurses Association is ramping up its campaign for legislation that would boost its ranks, but despite substantial support among lawmakers it is unclear whether it has enough momentum to become law this year.

The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, which has stalled repeatedly in New York, would require acute care facilities and nursing homes to set minimum staffing requirements and nurse-to-patient ratios.

“To ensure the adequate protection of patients in health care settings, it is essential that qualified registered nurses and other licensed nurses be accessible and available to meet the needs of patients,” the bill text says. “The basic principles of staffing in the health care setting should be based on the patient’s care needs, the severity of condition and services needed and the complexity surrounding those services.”

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther has sponsored the bill in the Assembly, while state Sen. Kemp Hannon, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, has sponsored the legislation in the state Senate. The bill has more than 100 bipartisan co-sponsors in both houses, with 33 co-sponsors in the state Senate and a majority in the Assembly also supporting the legislation.

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