Bills Would Help Ease Nursing Shortage, Los Angeles Times Says
With the United States expected to have half a million fewer nurses than needed by 2020, a Los Angeles Times editorial states that bills recently introduced by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Sens. James Jeffords (R-Vt.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) "would take modest but significant steps toward easing the nursing shortage." Modeled after programs such as Kaiser Permanente's Career Ladder, which provides hospital workers with flex-time and financial support to take skill-building classes, the proposed legislation would provide $100 million in scholarships for nursing students and grants to hospitals to train nurses. In addition, the legislation would allocate $20 million for public service announcements promoting the nursing profession. However, the editorial notes that these bills will not "solve the deeper malady: managed care cost-cutting that has left many nurses exhausted, forcing them to serve more patients on longer shifts and leading some to leave the profession altogether." Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) are working on separate bills "aimed at solving the staffing problem by requiring hospitals to stay within 'safe' nurse-patient ratios," but the editorial notes that those measures are "likely to become mired in a quicksand of controversy." The editorial concludes, "The legislation by Capps, Jeffords and Kerry, by contrast, is politically viable now. The bills hardly give nurses all the support they need and deserve, but they are sensible reforms that should be passed. Stat" (Los Angeles Times, 5/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.