'That bill has died': Staffing rules cut from Minnesota legislation

Regulations that would have required Minnesota hospitals to form nurse staffing committees to establish staffing levels were cut from a controversial bill during final-hour negotiations May 22, the Star Tribune reported. 

The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act would have required hospitals to create staffing committees of equal parts direct care workers and hospital leaders, and hospitals would have had to abide by the nurse staffing ratios set by their committee. With those staffing rules cut, the bill's authors renamed it to the Nurse and Patient Safety Act, which is mostly focused on workplace violence prevention and nurse burnout. It also includes student loan forgiveness programs for nurses.

"That bill has died," Mary Turner, RN, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said. "And I'm so heartbroken. For those nurses who choose to stay at the bedside, though, the language in this agreement will help them to feel safe in their jobs." 

The Minnesota Hospital Association had argued the staffing regulations would harm patients' access to care through service cuts and decreased hospital capacity. 

"We deeply appreciate the legislators' thoughtful consideration and their willingness to listen to our concerns regarding legislation impacting patient care," the group said in a statement. 

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic was granted an exemption from the bill after the health system's CEO said it was considering pulling billions in investments from the state over the original bill. That fueled further pushback from the state's hospital association, who said the exception "means the authors know that the underlying bill is flawed."

The Minnesota Nurses Association have been advocating for legislation to support staffing ratios since 2008.

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