The 2013 legislative session ended last week with some significant improvements and changes to policies that affect nursing, health care and working families. In addition, with the change in legislative majorities to DFL control of the House and Senate, we did not have to fight off threats like Right to Work legislation, deep cuts to programs, or the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact.
We made major progress toward our goal of minimum standards for nursing care in acute care hospitals. Our bill for a Department of Health study of the correlation between nurse staffing and patient health outcomes was signed into law by Governor Dayton. We are confident this study will validate what nurses have been saying for years: patients suffer when staffing is inadequate.
The bill will also require hospitals to report their staffing levels on a public website, which will provide transparency for the public.
Nurse Practice Act Changes
Governor Dayton signed into law a bill clarifying the scope of practice of Licensed Practical Nurses. The measure goes into effect on August 1. SF1016 was crafted after years of discussions between MNA, the Licensed Practical Nurse Alliance and the Board of Nursing. The final product clarifies and strengthens the Nurse Practice Act for both LPNs and RNs. Specifically, the law clarifies the definitions of assignment, delegation and unlicensed assistive personnel.
The Board of Nursing has committed to conducting education sessions for nurses on this issue. We will alert you when those opportunities are scheduled.
State Employee Contract
Last session the contract for over 700 MNA nurses in state facilities, agreed to by both management and employees, was voted down by the Republican-controlled legislature after continued attacks on public employees. During this legislative session the same contract was approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Dayton. Nurses at state facilities will see a 2 percent raise retroactive to this year.
Budget and Taxes
Minnesota now has a budget that invests in our future and protects the health of seniors and working families, while making the tax system fairer.
The top 2 percent of wage earners will pay about 2 percent more in taxes, which will raise $1 billion dollars; cigarette and other tobacco taxes will go up, which will raise another $600 million and hopefully convince some to quit; and the state will close corporate tax loopholes, which will raise $424 million.
Doing all that meant the Governor could sign an $11.2 billion health and human services budget bill, which includes a 5 percent rate increase for nursing homes next year-of which over half will go to workers who care for our seniors-along with another 3.2 percent increase by 2016.
MNCare will continue to provide high-quality affordable health care for working families in 2014 and beyond, making Minnesota the ONLY state that is continuing a public health coverage program in 2014 that will be able to transition to the Basic Health Plan option under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2015. Basic Health Plan financing offered through the ACA means our state budget will see significant savings starting in 2015.
Patients will benefit from improvements to MNCare including elimination of the $10,000 hospital cap, lower premiums and elimination of the waiting period to get on the program. Expansion of Medicaid will add health care coverage for 35,000 low-income people.
You are invited: Legislative Wrap-Up Briefing
Come learn more about the legislative session, including more in-depth information about the staffing study, at the MNA Legislative Wrap-Up Briefing.
WHEN: Tuesday, June 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
WHERE: At the MNA office in St. Paul, 345 Randolph Avenue, Suite 200, St. Paul 55102 or via webcast
This event is for MNA members only and requires an RSVP. Please contact Eileen Gavin at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know if you plan to participate in person or online. (Online participants will need an RSVP code to join the event.)