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Bill to require hospitals to hire more nurses advances

Senator Kemp Hannon during a public meeting at

Senator Kemp Hannon during a public meeting at the New York State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Albany. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY — A measure to increase staffing of nurses in hospitals statewide thought to be nearly dead in Albany has new life on the last day of the 2016 legislative session.

The proposed Quality Care Act advanced to the Senate’s Rules Committee, which could push it to a floor vote on the long, last day of the session. The measure was approved Tuesday in the Assembly and is sponsored in the Senate by Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City). The measure has more than the 32 votes needed for approval in the Senate relying on minority party Democrats, but the bill requires more Republican support to get to the floor for a vote, under Albany’s rules.

“It’s cost-effective and there are better outcomes and it will save money,” said Assemb. Aileen Gunther (D-Middletown), the lead sponsor in the Assembly. “Safe staffing is a critical step to ensuring the safety of patients and the safety of nurses.”

Critics of the bill said it would further add to the cost of health care that is a major, rising cost for New Yorkers and employers.

The measure that was lobbied intensely by nurses in the final week of the session would establish nurse-to-patient ratios at hospitals. It would also require nurses be trained for the unit to which they are assigned, such as emergency rooms. The measure would also require hospitals to report their nurse-patient ratios and set a maximum number of patients for whom a nurse would be responsible.

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