More than 1,500 Nurses Protest Delay of Staffing Ratios
More than 1,500 nurses organized by the California Nurses Association on Tuesday protested Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) decision to delay changes to nurse staffing ratio rules, the San Jose Mercury News reports (LaMar, San Jose Mercury News, 1/19).
Under current state law, nurses may care for no more than six patients at one time. Schwarzenegger in November 2004 delayed until January 2008 the implementation of a law -- passed under former Gov. Gray Davis (D) and scheduled to take effect this month -- that would require nurses to be responsible for the care of no more than five patients at one time (California Healthline, 1/3).
The nurses organized outside the Capitol during a Department of Health Services hearing on the issue. Officials will decide whether to make the emergency regulations delaying the change -- which expire in 120 days -- permanent (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 1/19).
CNA President Deborah Burger said, "Every Californian will know what they can expect from this governor's administration," adding, "A heartless disregard for the well-being of the people, bargained away for campaign contributions and political support in return for turning control over essential governmental regulatory functions to corporate interests."
DHS Deputy Director Brenda Klutz said, "We started hearing real concerns from nursing homes and home-health agencies that we were making the nursing shortage worse" by requiring further restrictions to the ratios. She added, "The last thing we want to do is fix a problem somewhere in the health care industry and create a problem somewhere else" (Sacramento Bee, 1/19).
Some union leaders on Tuesday said that the nurses' protest was "just the start of a large and coordinated movement against" Schwarzenegger, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Changes Schwarzenegger has proposed include altering state contributions to health benefits for state employees from a percentage to an annual fixed amount, which could increase workers' health care costs. Other changes include delaying state contributions for health care benefits for as long as one year for new state employees (Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 1/19).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on the protests. The segment includes comments from Burger (Margolis, "Morning Edition," NPR, 1/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.