Lawmakers, nurses compromise on proposed nurse staffing legislation

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(ABC 6 News) – The authors of the ‘Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act’ announced that due to the exemption to Mayo Clinic Health System, the bill that previously passed in the Minnesota Senate and House no longer has enough votes to pass.

But Monday evening, authors announced a new agreement, the ‘Nurse and Patient Safety Act.’

The bill includes several nursing-related provisions previously part of the larger bill, including a study on nurse staffing and retention, new protections against workplace violence, and childcare assistance and student loan forgiveness for nurses.

Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), said while nurses didn’t get everything they wanted and needed in the final version of the bill, supporters still consider it a “big damned deal.”

Earlier this month, Mayo Clinic threatened to pull millions of dollars in investments out of Minnesota should its health system be included in the bill.

“We came to the session fighting for our efforts to keep nurses at the bedside,” said Murphy. “What we have in this provision is important, transformative work for nurses, for direct care workers, and the patients in their care.”

The compromise legislation is expected to pass both bodies of the Minnesota legislature before they adjourn Monday evening.

Mary C. Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association released the following statement:

“Today, my heart breaks for the patients in Minnesota. We came here to pass the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act. Because of the power and influence of corporate healthcare executives, that bill has died.
“For those nurses who choose to stay at the bedside, the language in this agreement will help them to feel safe in their jobs. It will help them to care for their children, to find relief from heavy student loans. It will meaningfully improve the lives and the work of those nurses who choose to stay in our profession.
“The strong protections against workplace violence are especially critical. These strongest-in-the-nation protections will be a godsend to many of our nurses on the most understaffed units.
“Today’s outcome, and the events of the last three weeks, make clear that the outsized power of corporate executives is alive and well. It is alive and well in Minnesota, in the halls of power, and in the halls of our hospitals. The strong-arm bully tactics of hospital CEOs that all Minnesotans have suffered this last week are the same tactics nurses experience every day in the workplace.

Mary C. Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association

The Minnesota Hospital Association released the following statement:

Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals and health systems entered this legislative session facing unprecedented challenges. With a historic health care worker shortage exacerbating an already strained financial environment, our capacity to deliver uncompromised, high-quality care to all Minnesotans is under significant strain. 

We look forward to continuing the collaboration with our direct care professionals to ensure the best possible care is available to all Minnesotans. We deeply appreciate the legislators’ thoughtful consideration and their willingness to listen to our concerns regarding legislation impacting patient care. 

The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) is unwavering in its support for legislation addressing workplace violence and the workforce shortage confronting our statewide system of care. We affirm our commitment to work in collaboration with our dedicated care teams, including nurses, and welcome all assistance in addressing these challenges in service of those who matter most – our patients. 

As we move forward, we remain resolute in our commitment to work closely with the legislature and caregivers to address the ongoing challenges faced by our nonprofit hospitals and health systems as we remain focused on caring for our patients and communities. We acknowledge that there is much work to be done, and we remain devoted to ensuring that the best possible care is accessible to all Minnesotans.