Health Care Workforce
Timely access to quality care requires a dedicated and well-trained workforce. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I am working hard to ensure that we meet that goal.
I believe that the first step is to provide education and training, including expansion of the National Health Service Corps, Graduate Medical Education funding, grants and loan assistance. Second, we need to make sure that every medical professional is allowed to practice – and be reimbursed – for the services they are licensed to provide. Third, we need to provide adequate payments. For example, I am working hard to replace Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate payment formula with a permanent solution that more adequately compensates doctors and on initiatives to increase payments to primary care providers. Finally we need to make sure that we require safe staffing standards to protect patient safety and retain nurses and other health care professionals.
The Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, includes improvements in all of these areas – including provisions to expand the geriatric workforce and support direct care workers -- provisions that I offered.
Legislation I've Introduced
Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient and Quality Care Act – The Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act: According to the Institute of Medicine, up to 98,000 hospital patients die each year from preventable problems, many of which could be avoided with safe staffing levels. Further, the Joint Commission found that nurse-staffing shortages are a factor in one out of every four unexpected hospital deaths or injuries caused by errors. The Nurse Staffing bill would establish new minimum federal safety standards – including nurse-to-patient ratios – and require that hospitals work with direct care nurses to develop facility-specific staffing plans. It would also provide whistleblower protections for nurses who speak out to protect their patients' health and safety.