On June 13, 2012 over 100 nurses took Capitol Hill by storm to advocate on behalf of critical nursing issues. These nurses met with 200 Senators and Representatives, Republican and Democrat alike, lending their voice to the importance of passing the Home Health Planning and Improvement Act (H.R. 2267/S. 227), the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act (H.R. 876/S.58), and increasing funding for Nursing workforce development programs through Title VIII.
Compromise might not be a dirty word on Capitol Hill after all. After months of grandstanding and apparent deadlock, it appears that Congress has found a way forward on two important issues by combining them into one package that gives both parties key pieces while requiring compromise on others. The combined Highways-Student Loan bill will include a two-year $100 billion spending plan for highway and mass transit construction and repairs, and $6 billion to prevent rates on new student loans from doubling.
If you do a quick internet search of “fiscal cliff” you would get possibly hundreds of new articles describing what is the “fiscal cliff”, when the cliff may happen, and what Congress needs to do to avert the U.S. economy from falling off the “fiscal cliff”. You can even find articles explaining if the “fiscal cliff” is even real.
The Senate took the first steps of passing the Labor Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) bill on June 14th by passing a bill out of committee. The Senate LHHS committee appropriated funds for Nursing Workforce Development Programs at the same amount as the fiscal year 2012 level.
As states continue to address nurse staffing through state legislation, with many instances of success, it still remains unlikely that every state will address safe staffing in a similar way. That’s why ANA continues to advocate for Federal legislation which if enacted, would extend the protection of safe nurse staffing to all states.
Recent changes to the “Conditions of Participation” (CoPs) for hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid will give nurses more flexibility in key areas — nursing care plans, standing orders, medication administration, infection control, and medical staff participation by advance practice registered nurses (APRNs). In the notice of final rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognized the contributions and leadership of registered and advance practice nurses, even quoting from ANA’s comments. CMS also decided to grant critical access hospitals (CAHs) more flexibility in how they operate. With the Joint Commission involved in ensuring hospitals comply with the CoPs, the guidelines can also have an effect beyond Medicare/Medicaid hospitals.