— Rep. Kathy L. Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest), Republican chair of the House Health Committee, opposed a bill enforcing strict nurse staffing ratios on hospitals in the Commonwealth. She issued this statement following the vote:
“We all want our hospitals to have full staffed nursing teams. However, penalizing our hospitals for being unable to hire enough nurses during a nationwide nursing shortage will not solve the problem.
“House Bill 106
calls for increasing sanctions on hospitals that can’t meet strict staffing ratios. Those ratios are the same for well-resourced health networks and small rural hospitals alike. Every hospital and health system we have heard testify in the House Health Committee has said they’d love to hire more nurses. Some have offered $15,000, or even $30,000 sign-on bonuses with increased wages, higher shift differentials, more flexible scheduling options and other enticement. After all those recruitment efforts, some smaller hospitals still report RN vacancies in the range of 130-350 nurses. For larger hospitals, that figure sometimes climbed over 1,000.
Based on a fiscal analysis done by the House Appropriations Committee, state hospitals, which will be subject to the mandated ratios, will need approximately 500 registered nurses to ensure compliance at a state cost of more than $31 million annually.
“The only difference for these hospitals if House Bill 106 is signed into law will be steadily increasing fines. These fines will be enforced per violation. That means a hospital could rack up more than 50 violations per day, leading to fines greater than $125,000 per day. If a hospital has repeat violations, eventually the Department of Health will have no choice but to move to suspend or revoke a hospital’s license. While this bill’s intention is to try to bring more nurses to the bedside, I fear it could lead to hospitals being forced to close those beds. House Bill 106 could be a death sentence for the hospitals of our Commonwealth.”
House Bill 106 passed with a 119-84 vote. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Kathy Rapp
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jake Gillespie
RepRapp.com / Facebook.com/RepRapp