Much gain made on Beacon Hill – Legislation poised to cross final hurdle
Despite a tremendous effort from RNs and patient advocacy groups across the state, in the early morning hours of July 31st the 2003.2004 legislative session came to an end without final passage of Safe RN Staffing Legislation.
State Representative Christine Canavan led a final attempt to attach the Senate passed pilot program to a ‘supplemental’ budget but the House did not take up the supplemental spending bill.
While the Legislature did not pass the Safe RN Staffing legislation, due to the hard work of RNs and patient advocates much progress was made. The legislation was passed by the Joint Committee on Health Care for the first time and the State Senate passed in its budget a 10-hospital pilot program of the Safe RN Staffing bill. 102 members of the legislature co-sponsored the bill and 70 organizations endorsed the effort, forming the Coalition to Protect Massachusetts Patients.
This issue is not over. While formal legislative sessions are finished until January 2005, Legislative leaders intend to convene a working committee to have a bill ready to act on for next year.
The efforts of RNs and others should be commended. Your phone calls, letter writing, postcards and meetings with your legislators had an enormous impact.
In the coming months, the MNA intends to work aggressively to support the reelection of those legislators who strongly supported our cause, support new candidates who will make passage of this legislation a priority, continue to build and grow our coalition in support of safe staffing, and prepare our campaign for the coming session.
The members have made this a clear priority, identifying safe staffing as a critical issue for patient safety. Not surprisingly their assessment has proven accurate with an onslaught of research and their solution proves pin-point with 82% of the public in support and 89% of RNs across the state.
It is not a question of whether safe staffing legislation will pass – it is simply a question of when. We will continue to work with the Coalition, our members, the public and the Legislature with the goal of making passage of protecting patients reality sooner rather than later.