Uncle Sam and health programs important to AMSN got a brief reprieve from the risk of shutdown late November as Congress passed and the President signed into law another “continuing resolution” stopgap government funding measure. Federal programs are now funded through Dec. 20, 2019. Meanwhile, congressional negotiators are working to finalize overdue 2020 spending plans and keep the government from shutting down during the holidays. AMSN has kept requesting Congress prioritize health: to support strong funding for priorities like Title 8 nurse workforce development, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).
Have you been heard in Washington? AMSN’s new Legislative Action Center (www.amsn.org/legislative) strengthens your voice! Through this new online resource, you can learn about vital AMSN policy issues, your own state and federal legislators, and make your voice heard. Our current calls to action urges Senators and Representatives in Washington to support Title 8 nurse workforce development legislation, and to take a practical, public health approach to reduce gun violence in America by funding critical research, supporting background checks, and treating not stigmatizing persons with mental illness.
AMSN is on top of states continuing legislative work this fall affecting med-surg nurses and their patients.
• In Pennsylvania, the state Senate on Oct. 22 passed SB 637, promoting expanded licensure opportunities for ex-offenders without affecting voluntary certification programs like MSNCB. The bill’s next stop is the state House of Representatives. AMSN worked through the Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) to help block an earlier bill (HB 811) that would have interfered with important voluntary licensing programs for med-surg nurses and other health care professionals.
• In Illinois the legislature is out of session. But behind the scenes, labor groups are organizing to move legislation in 2020 establishing mandatory nurse-patient staffing ratios. AMSN policy supports med-surg nurses making staffing decisions at the local level, not one-size-fits-all government staffing plans. Earlier this year, AMSN sent a letter of opposition to Springfield about a previous staffing ratio mandate bill that died in the legislature and was not enacted into law.
• In New York advocates are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law bills eliminating prior authorizations for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for persons with opioid use disorder. Because the opioid crisis affects so many people including med-surg nurses, AMSN monitors opioid crisis legislation as part of its 2019 legislative agenda.
What are AMSN’s advocacy plans and how can med-surg nurses engage? AMSN Legislative Team chair Yalanda Comeaux, MSN, MJ, RN, CMSRN, and legislative consultant Frank Purcell conducted a live webinar on this topic earlier this fall, titled “Be Heard for Your Patients: Health Policy & Advocacy for Med-Surg Nurses.” Now it’s available for AMSN members through our online library! This one-hour program will educate you as a med-surg nurse about the fundamentals of advocacy, AMSN’s agenda, and AMSN’s advocacy plans for now and the future that invite your engagement and support your profession. Visit the AMSN Library: www.amsn.org.