Home Health Care Proposed NY nurse staffing legislation may have unintended consequences

Proposed NY nurse staffing legislation may have unintended consequences



There has been a good deal of publicity on the part of the New York State Nurses Association in support of proposed legislation to mandate nurse staffing in New York. We believe this legislation, if passed, may end up having unintended consequences for Hudson Valley health care providers and patients alike.

It’s noteworthy that we don’t know of any health care professionals in favor of this legislation. The largest health care union has not endorsed this legislation. There is no correlation between mandated staffing ratios and improved quality outcomes. In fact, the opposite may occur. Patients, organizations and nurses are not all the same and variations in medical needs, available supplemental resources and nurse specialization need to be taken into account when determining staffing levels. What business owner or CEO would accept outside mandates about how to staff their own organization?

It’s estimated that this legislation would add an additional $3 billion per year to the cost of health care in New York without any positive impacts on care quality. Can the health care providers, business community and patients afford this unnecessary expense? The whole nation, and particularly New York, is already complaining about the cost of health care.

A few things are clear if this legislation passes:

  • Steep increases in staffing costs will force a number of hospitals and long-term care facilities to close.
  • Dramatic cuts will be made to non-nurse staff.
  • Access to care and services provided will clearly be reduced.
  • There is no professional evidence that care will be improved.
  • Emergency roomwait times will increase, delaying life-saving services.
  • Nursing shortages are already a problem and there won’t be enough nurses available to comply with this bill as written.

We strongly urge the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reconsider the legislation it has on the table regarding mandated nurse-patient ratios. The dedicated people who run health care facilities and oversee the nursing functions know what’s best for their particular patients. The health care sector is the most important economic driver in our region and to threaten their financial viability by an artificial mandate is unacceptable. As it currently stands, this legislation would add an unnecessarily large burden to the Hudson Valley’s already overburdened health care system.

William Mooney is the president and CEO of the Westchester County Association and Mike Oates is president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation. The organizations have announced a merger to drive economic development in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley.

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