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June 25, 2014

Lawmakers: Deal in the works on nurse staffing bill

BOSTON — A deal is in the works on Beacon Hill to pass legislation setting a nurse-to-patient staffing ratio, two lawmakers said Wednesday.

The legislation would limit the number of patients to “no more than” two patients to one nurse in an intensive care unit setting, Rep. Denise Garlick, D-Needham, a registered nurse, said after emerging from a closed caucus of House Democrats early Wednesday afternoon.

The House could take up the legislation later Wednesday and it is being drafted by the House Ways and Means Committee, Garlick said.

Rep. Paul Brodeur, D-Melrose, a member of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, confirmed Garlick’s comments.

“It looks like we’ve achieved some consensus,” Brodeur said.

According to the two lawmakers, if the legislation reaches Gov. Deval Patrick, proponents of two separate initiative petitions marked for the November ballot would drop those proposals.

One petition seeks to set nurse staffing limits and another regulates annual operating margins, CEO compensation, and financial asset disclosures of hospitals and other facilities.

The bill being drafted deals only with nurse staffing, Garlick said.

Garlick said the boards of Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Nurses Association have met and voted to sign off on the deal.

The nurses association has been active in pushing both ballot questions, launching an ad campaign this week that demands a response from Beacon Hill to hospital CEO salaries and efforts within the industry to sock money away in off-shore accounts.

Nurses association spokesman David Schildmeier declined comment on Garlick’s claims of a deal.

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