Hospital Staffing Legislation Introduced in Congress Again This Term

nurses2.JPGOn January 25, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced in the Senate the “Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2011” (S. 58), which would require Medicare-participating hospitals to establish nurse staffing committees to develop hospital-wide staffing plans for nursing services. The bill is identical to bills introduced in both the House and the Senate last session, discussed in detail in a previous post on this blog site. Neither bill was reported out of committee.

Increasing nurse to patient ratios at hospitals has been a key issue for the National Nurses United (NNU) and its affiliates. The unions have been pushing for staffing legislation on both the federal and state level, most recently in Massachusetts. Legislation similar to the bill introduced by Senator Inouye was enacted in Connecticut in 2008.  Conn. Gen. Stat. §19a-89e. California has had a law and regulations mandating specific nurse to patient ratios for several years. The issue has also been contentious in contract negotiations, resulting in strikes in a number of states.

Whether the continued union activity in support of hospital staffing laws will result in the passage of federal legislation or additional state legislation on the issue remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the pressure for such legislation by the NNU will continue unabated. We will continue to report on this issue as new developments unfold.

This entry was written by George O’Brien.

Photo credit: jsmith

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.