WSHA urges legislators to consider alternatives to hospital staffing bill

February 17, 2022

Unfortunately, House Bill 1868 has advanced in the Washington Legislature and is currently being considered in the Senate. While the bill was somewhat modified, it still includes rigid staff ratios that will lead to hospital care delays and increased costs. WSHA and our members are urging the Senate to oppose the bill to avoid rationing care in our communities.

The legislation does nothing to increase the number of nurses available in Washington state. National staffing shortages would make compliance with the required ratios in HB 1868 impossible. If hospitals are unable to meet ratios, they would be forced to close units to additional patients and, in some cases, may have to discontinue services entirely. Washingtonians can expect delays in scheduled surgeries; hours long wait times in the Emergency Department; and major challenges for patients in smaller community hospitals who need to transfer to a larger hospital for more complex care.

WSHA is urging legislators to consider alternatives to HB 1868 and invest in solutions to address the root causes of strain on the health care workforce:

  • Strengthen health care education in Washington by adding more slots to nursing education programs, raising pay for nurse instructors, expanding innovative apprenticeship programs and adding financial and social support for people pursuing a nursing degree.
  • Ease the number of patients in hospitals by increasing payment rates for the long-term care system so patients with no medical need can move out of hospitals.
  • Support and strengthen Washington state‚Äôs current nurse staffing committee model that brings together frontline staff and nurse leaders to develop staffing plans at the local level.
  • Join the interstate nurse compact to allow licensed nurses to move from other states and more easily begin working in Washington. The compact is working in 25 states, yet nursing unions opposed joining the compact as recently as 2021.

Click here to join us in telling legislators to oppose HB 1868.

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