The 44th Annual Legislative Conference of the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators was convened on February 14 in Albany with more than 100 NYSNA members representing our members from throughout the state. “Ending healthcare disparities” was this year’s Conference theme, a message that echoes the central tenet of our union. There were political functions, workshops and panels, and an opportunity overall to meet elected officials and staff on policy issues. Our message was clear and well-received: quality health care for all New Yorkers, patients over profits.
Congrats to the new Speaker
Assemblyman Carl Heastie of the Bronx was formally elected by members as Speaker of the Assembly, the first person of color to serve in that role in the Legislature’s 238-year history. Bronx RNs had an opportunity to congratulate Speaker Heastie on his election and on keeping equality and healthcare atop the agenda.
Discussions are well underway regarding New York State’s next budget. Here’s a snapshot of our budget priorities:
We continue to press hard for passage of a law for safe staffing. Towards that end, NYSNA is calling for funding to conduct a study of registered nurse staffing patterns in New York NYSNA and all other unions representing RNs support the enactment of mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios in New York to address chronic short-staffing. This matter is critical to providing safe, quality care to patients.
With $8 billion in special Medi-caid funds at issue in DSRIP over the next five years (see pages 6-7), we believe that an “Independent DSRIP Public Advocate” Office is very much needed to meet the stated goals of improving community health, improving the quality of healthcare and lowering per capita costs of providing healthcare to Medicaid, uninsured and dual-eligible patients.
On another front, we continue to work against for-profit ownership and private-equity investment in New York hospitals. Keeping profits out of hospitals in our state distinguishes our state from all others. NYSNA strongly opposes the introduction through the budget process of any proposal that directly or indirectly allows for-profit corporate ownership or private-equity capital investment in hospitals and other Article 28 healthcare providers. We must maintain our fundamental commitment to patients over profits.
Maintaining and strengthening Certificate of Need (CON) regulations continue to be in our sights. These are a critical underpinning of our efforts in the budgetary process. CON regulations provide protection for and integrity in the provision of healthcare. As a check on the power of increasingly concentrated and powerful healthcare delivery systems, CON regulations are the source of real public oversight of healthcare services.
NYSNA is calling for vigilance in the protection of quality of care and the practice of nursing. We strongly oppose any initiative seeking to change nurse practice regulations or standards through the budget process. Proposed changes to the Nurse Practice Act (Higher Education Law Sections 6901-6912) can have significant repercussions on the practice of nursing, the quality of patient care and on patient outcomes and safety.
We stand behind efforts to increase funding to establish regional health improvement collaboratives by strongly supporting the concept of regional planning bodies. These would provide democratic input into the determination of local healthcare needs and enable a planning process for the allocation of healthcare resources.
Using a financial transaction tax on stocks to fund healthcare is also on our agenda. NYSNA supports the implementation of the Stock Transfer Tax (Article 12 of the Tax Law). Revenue from this tax on stock transactions should be directed at improving access to and quality of healthcare.
NYSNA supports adequate levels of funding for nursing education programs, given the ongoing expectation that the nursing shortage will be a continuing problem in New York.
The Nurse Family Partnership program pairs nurses with high-risk pregnant women in order to provide in-home training, education and assistance to expectant mothers in an effort to promote the health of the woman and the infant during the pregnancy and continuing up to age two. We endorse this important and effective effort.
NYSNA supports increased financial assistance to local health departments to expand the scope of coordinated public health nursing programs at the municipal and county level.
We are calling for support for Ebola/Infectious disease training and preparedness and for funding to support healthcare workers providing Ebola care in Western Africa.