Senate Subcommittee Considers Proposal To Increase Oversight of State Funds Allocated To Hire Nurses
Members of a Senate budget subcommittee at a hearing on Monday considered a proposal that would require state officials to report on whether funds allocated to help hospitals hire additional nurses to meet new nurse staffing ratios are used for that purpose, the AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports (Wasserman, AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 4/5).
The California Nurses Association last month said that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) improperly allocated $27.4 million in state funds to pay hospitals as part of Medi-Cal reimbursement rate increases included in the fiscal year 2004-2005 state budget. CNA said that the Legislature had approved the funds to help hospitals hire additional nurses (California Healthline, 3/10). CNA also said that some hospitals might have taken state funds to hire additional nurses but did not use the funds for that purpose.
At the hearing, subcommittee Chair Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), who sponsored the 1999 law that mandated the nurse staffing ratios, said, "We ought to find out if hospitals are complying with that law." Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) added, "It seems money specifically allocated to advancement of nurse-patient staff ratios was not spent to do that, or it can't be shown that it was spent to do that" (AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 4/5).