MNA re-files safe staffing legislation
set of additional health care bills also submitted
past legislative session resulted in historic progress on the
MNA's bill to ensure safe RN staffing. The Massachusetts House
of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 133-20, in favor of
compromise legislation that would have directed the Department
of Public Health to create ideal standards and limits on how
many patients a registered nurse would have to care for at one
time. In addition, a majority of senators signed on as sponsors
of H.2663, the original version of the MNA's safe RN staffing
bill. But despite this resounding victory in the House, broad
backing in the Senate and comprehensive research supporting
the bill, Senate leadership would not allow the bill on the
floor for a vote.
now look to the next legislative session as we plan to continue
our pursuit of safe RN staffing legislation. We are encouraged
by our successes in the previous session, by the overwhelming
re-election and election rates of supporters of the legislation
in both the House and Senate as well as the election of Deval
Patrick as governor and Tim Murray as lieutenant governor.
97 percent of the 147 candidates endorsed by the MNA took the
oath of office in early January. Tim Murray has been a strong
ally and supporter of the nurses during his tenure as a city
councilor and mayor of Worcester, and Deval Patrick has publicly
declared his support for our compromise legislation. Governor
Patrick has stated:
do support the compromise bill that won passage in the House,
but failed to win passage in the Senate. I look forward to working
with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, legislators and others
to revive it."
is your work that has enabled this critical legislation to advance
this far. And it will be your continued dedication to this issue
that ensures its passage in the upcoming session. Our coalition
has grown to over 100 health care, consumer and labor groups.
More RNs than ever are communicating with their fellow RNs,
their communities and their legislators about how essential
this bill is to ensuring the quality of patient care in the
commonwealth. We will be mounting a significant grassroots campaign
in key districts and will once again need your help lobbying
This past legislative session also saw tremendous progress on
a number of other issues advocated for by our nurses and health
the school nurse parity bill, was passed in both the House and
Senate and the governor's veto was overridden on July 24. This
legislation gives school nurses professional status that will
provide them with due process and professional recognition.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program was also written
into law during this past session. The SANE program helps victims
of sexual assault obtain medical services, utilizing nurses
who are specially trained to deal with the emotional and physical
state of victims in this process. By codifying SANE into law,
legislators and the former governor made this program a permanent
resource in assisting those victimized by sexual assault.
ahead and re-filing
The MNA also filed a number of other pieces of legislation in
early January, including:
Patient Handling/Lifting Legislation: H.2662, legislation
aimed at ensuring safe patient handling, was reported out of
the House Public Health Committee favorably this past session
but no further action was taken. The MNA looks forward to re-filing
this critical legislation that would set acceptable standards
for the lifting and handling of patients to curb the high rate
of injuries incurred by the RNs and health care professionals
who perform such activities. According to The Bureau of Labor
Statistics, direct patient care RNs get injured from lifting,
moving and repositioning their patients at a higher injury rate
than that of laborers, movers and truck drivers. Work-related
lifting injuries, in turn, lead many nurses to leave the profession,
with 52 percent of all nurses suffering chronic back pain and
38 percent of nurses experiencing pain severe enough to cause
them to leave work at some point.
issue has become particularly problematic in Massachusetts.
Back injury claims have contributed to giving the health care
industry in the state of the ominous reputation of being one
of the most dangerous industries, with a total recordable case
rate in 2004 of 8.0 for hospitals and of 9.4 for nursing homes—statistics
that are notably higher than those found in the manufacturing,
textile and utility industries.
one health care worker in 10 in Massachusetts files a claim
for injury, and the greater percentage of these claims are related
to back injuries. This rate also makes Massachusetts' hospitals
more unsafe for patients by contributing to the statewide loss
of nurses from the bedside. At a time when we are trying to
retain and recruit more nurses, this legislation is critical
in order to ensure that we do not lose quality nursing staff
to otherwise preventable injuries. The bill also features a
component that would provide financial incentives to hospitals
to aid in costs incurred due to compliance.
Act Relative to a Patient's Report Card of Nursing:
This bill would require hospitals, nursing homes, clinics etc.,
licensed or registered by the Department of Public Health and
health maintenance organizations to report appropriate data.
This would include, but would not be limited to, measures which
differentiate between severity of patient illness; readmission
rates; lengths-of-stay; patient/family satisfaction; indicators
of the nature and amount of nursing care directly provided by
licensed nurses; the number of patients (on average) cared for
by a nurse; and documentation of defined nursing interventions
and patient safety measures. This would enable purchasers of
group health insurance policies/health care services and the
public to make meaningful financial and quality-of-care comparisons.
Act to Ensure Safe Medication Administration: This
bill would prohibit unlicensed personnel from distributing medications
for which they have not received sufficient education and training
as approved by the state.
Act Relative to Improvements in Private Duty Nursing Care for
Developmentally Disabled Children: This bill would
provide expert nursing care to all developmentally disabled
children eligible to receive private duty nursing care.
Act Relative to a Nurse Deputy Commissioner at the Department
of Public Health: This bill would direct the Department
of Public Health to appoint a registered nurse to be nurse deputy
commissioner responsible for statewide planning, policy development
and the coordination, communication and resource management
for programs and district health officers within the department.
Act Relative to a Registered Nurse Seat on the Public Health
Council: This bill would add an additional seat on
the Public Health Council for a registered nurse from the state's
largest organization of RNs.
Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement
Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence: This bill would
require health care employers to annually perform a risk assessment,
and based on those findings, develop and implement programs
to minimize the danger of workplace violence to employees.
Act Relative to Assault and Battery on Health Care Providers:
This bill would punish those patients/clients who assault any
health care provider treating, transporting or otherwise performing
their duty. The punishment would be imprisonment in the house
of correction for between ninety days and two and one half years,
or by a fine between $500 and $5,000 dollars, or both.
Act Relative to Group 4 for Health Care Professionals:
This bill would include in Group 4, for purposes of retirement,
state employees whose duties require them to be licensed health
care professionals for ten or more years and who care for prisoners
or the mentally ill, mentally retarded, chronically psychologically
impaired or those with chronic infectious diseases.
An Act Relative to Group 2 Employees (state):
This bill would include in Group 2, for purposes of retirement,
state employees who care for the mentally ill, mentally retarded,
chronically psychologically impaired or those with chronic infectious
Act Related to Interest Arbitration for Health Care Professionals:
This bill would make arbitration for a bargaining unit employed
by the commonwealth of Massachusetts binding, provided that
the scope is limited to wages, hours and conditions of employment.
Act to Include Certain Municipal Employees of the Commonwealth
in Group 2 of the Contributory Retirement System for Public
Employees: This bill would entail classifying licensed
nursing care employees of cities and towns in Group 2 of the
Public Employees Retirement System.
Act Regarding Insurance Equity for Registered Nurse First Assistants:
This bill would require insurance coverage for registered nurse
first assistant services in insurance policies and health service
contracts issued in the Commonwealth.
Act Authorizing the Sale of "RN" Distinctive Registration Plates:
This bill would direct the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to issue
distinctive license plates whose proceeds would establish a
fund for the future of nursing.
Act Relative to Creating a Difficult to Manage Unit within the
Department of Mental Health: This bill would create
a "Difficult to Manage" unit for women within the Department
of Mental Health that would be equivalent to the "Difficult
to Manage" unit already in place for men.
If you have any questions or would like to become involved in
the MNA's legislative, community action and/or government affairs
work, please contact the MNA's political organizer Riley Ohlson
or by phone at 781.830.5740.