NEW YORK NURSE: December 2009
Reflecting on the upheaval that marked the legislature’s final days in 2009, NYSNA’s director of governmental affairs Shaun Flynn won’t speculate on the upcoming 2010 session. Instead, he and staff are gearing up for a year of intense lobbying during what is poised to be the greatest fiscal crisis in the history of New York state.
“The budget will be the overarching issue next year for everyone,” said Flynn. As this issue of New York Nurse went to press, the State Legislature had approved interim budget cuts designed to reduce a current-year deficit of $3.2 billion. That number is projected to increase to $10 billion by next year and to $44.3 billion over the next four years.
These threatening figures will cast a shadow over bills introduced in the legislature in 2010. “Basically, everything that comes with a price tag will present a problem,” Flynn warned.
In addition to advancing its legislative agenda, NYSNA will work to prevent excessive cuts to health care. “We will be fighting cuts to Medicaid, as well as cuts to nursing education,” said Flynn. “But the fact is, if changes are not made, New York may not have enough money to cover its bills.”
The win in 2009 for “Disclosure,” or the Nursing Care Quality Protection Act, was a major accomplishment for NYSNA and all nurses in New York state. The bill requires public disclosure of nursing quality indicators such as staffing ratios, and was hard-won by NYSNA. But, Flynn cautions, there is still more to be done to implement the bill. NYSNA will be working closely with the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that regulations are in place to effectively manage the initiative and inform the public. “This process will serve two purposes,” Flynn asserts, “it will allow the public access to vital data regarding nursing care, and also provide lawmakers with important information to help jumpstart debate.” Flynn believes that regulations set forth by the DOH will reflect how strong the bill becomes in terms of accountability.
While it’s not a presidential campaign year, 2010 brings the promise of a major political battle in New York. With races wide open for comptroller, attorney general, and governor, it is too early to speculate about the outcomes of these contests.
“While we don’t yet know all the candidates who will be running, it probably will be a competitive election,” said Flynn. “It’s also a big year legislatively due to the razor-thin margin held by the Senate Democrats. There will be a big push from both sides for control.”
NYSNA’s legislative agenda for 2010 deals with a range of issues important to nursing care in New York state. NYSNA will continue to champion four top initiatives:
Other issues that will be closely monitored include removing the ban on mandatory physician collaboration for nurse practitioners, title protection for clinical nurse specialists, opposition to the creation of a new Tier 5 pension for New York City public employees, and school nurse staffing ratios.
With the dire fiscal challenges facing the state, it’s more important than ever for nurses to get involved in legislative issues. According to Flynn, “groups that are the most silent also get hurt the most in terms of cuts.”
If you are interested in becoming involved, visit www.nysna.org or contact NYSNA’s Governmental Affairs at 518.782.9400, ext. 283 for more information.
Nurses will march in March to stop budget cuts that hurt!
Massive cuts to health care in the state budget will hurt hospitals, nurses, patients, and communities. Make sure that nurses’ voices are heard in the State Capitol. Become part of our campaign to preserve healthcare services in New York state.
Watch for more information in January 2010.