Harmful Nurse Staffing Legislation Introduced in Michigan Legislature

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capitol buildingHarmful nurse staffing legislation was introduced May 11 in the Michigan Legislature that would mandate nurse staffing ratios, require public disclosure of the ratios and restrict mandatory overtime for nurses. The bill package is pushed by the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) and was announced during a press conference with some of the bill sponsors.

A joint media statement was published by the MHA and the Michigan Organization for Nursing Leadership (MONL) immediately following the press conference to express each organization’s opposition to the legislation. The statement referenced the potential to severely harm hospitals and access to important services for patients if the bills become law. A statement was included in multiple media stories throughout the state.

The series of bills are even more harmful than prior versions. Changes for this session include:

  • Increasing the timeline for implementation from three years to two years for rural hospitals and one year for all other hospitals.
  • Removing a committee approach to establish staffing models, within statutory minimum staffing ratios. The new bills do not call for or allow for the establishment of a committee.
  • Increasing ratios from prior versions. The maximum allowance is now 1:4 in behavioral health, acute rehab, med/surg and post-partum.
  • Specifying ratios to only registered nurses (RNs). Prior versions referenced licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the definition section, but these bills do not define LPNs and only specifically reference RNs only.

The bills introduced include:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 334 introduced by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).
  • SB 335 introduced by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit).
  • SB 336 introduced by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield).
  • House Bill (HB) 4550 introduced by Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit).
  • HB 4551 introduced by Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City).
  • HB 4552 introduced by Rep. Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor).

Several other bills saw action during the week. Members of the House Health Policy Committee voted to report legislation requiring drug manufacturers to report certain data and price changes to the state of Michigan. Introduced by Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), HB 4409 would also be known as the Drug Manufacturer Data Reporting Act. The MHA sees this as an important step in providing transparency into the fastest growing expense for Michigan hospitals. For example, drug costs rose nationally by 36.9% between 2019 and 2021. This bill now heads to the House floor for further consideration.

On the Senate floor, a vote was held on Sen. Santana’s bill intended to increase access to vaccines and certain laboratory tests. SB 219 would allow pharmacists to order and administer immunizations and certain diagnostic tests for their patients without physician supervision. A new substitute was adopted on the floor, incorporating feedback from the MHA’s Pharmacy Management Committee. The new language removes unnecessary continuing medical education requirements for vaccinations, matching current standards. The MHA is supportive of SB 219, which the Senate passed by a vote of 36-1.

On the House floor, votes were taken on a package of bills that would allow Michigan citizens to designate themselves as an organ donor on state tax forms. Introduced by Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp), Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint) and Rep. Natalie Price (D-Berkley), HBs 4362 through 4364 would provide for the question to be asked on tax forms starting in the 2023 tax year. The MHA is supportive of the legislation, which is being led by Gift of Life Michigan to reverse the decline in individuals signing up for the donor registry. Gift of Life Michigan testified in committee that states across the country are dealing with this decline, as the pandemic and online services have led to fewer trips to Secretary of State offices. The bills passed with bipartisan support and now move to the Senate.

Members with questions about state legislative action may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.