Tag Archives: Budget

Medicaid Cuts Will Cause More Nursing Injuries

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

While efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid appear to have stalled for now, any successful effort to cut Medicaid will adversely impact workplace safety for nurses and nurse’s aides.

Studies by the National Institutes of Health show that reductions in Medicaid funding leads to less staffing at long term care facilities and that lower staffing leads to more injuries for nursing employees. Since most nurses and nurse’s aides are covered under state-based workers compensation laws the additional costs of work injuries from Medicaid cuts may not be fully accounted for on a federal level.

At least in Nebraska nursing employees have some ways to protect themselves when advocating for safer working conditions even if they do not belong to a union.

Nebraska has a whistleblower law that applies specifically to health care workers, including nurses. The benefit of this act is that it allows employees to recover for damages similar to what they could collect under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practices Act, including front pay and possibly attorney fees, without having to exhaust administrative remedies. Additionally, health care workers would have four years to bring a suit under the health care whistleblowers law, rather than the much shorter and complicated statute of limitations under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practices Act.

Nebraska has a broad general whistleblower law that allows employees to oppose unlawful conduct by their employers. Nebraska law requires that nursing homes to be adequately staffed. Federal law also requires that employers provide a workplace to be free of recognizable hazard. Inadequate staffing would certainly be deemed be a recognizable hazard in a nursing home. The only drawback to Nebraska’s whistleblower law is the short and potentially uncertain statute of limitations.

Nebraska law would also allow nurses reporting inadequate staffing to be protected from retaliation under a public policy claim that also has a four year statute of limitations.

WA State Budget Passed and Signed

No Transit Funding = Unhappy Riders

Governor Inslee issued a letter noting that he had signed the budget into law, averting the shut-down of government offices and services that had been slated to occur as of July 1.  Although we are quite pleased that the shut-down was averted, just the threat of a shut-down caused a ridiculous number of man-hours to be spent preparing for the worst with ripple effects across our cases.  Frankly, some of those ripples were positive as the Claims Managers at the Department of Labor and Industries focused their attention on getting time loss compensation set up for claimants that were not already in the system to receive automatic payments.  We greatly appreciate the efforts put forth by many of the Claims Managers to address our requests for benefits before the deadline.  However, we did have negative impacts, as well, with cases in ligitation where depositions were rescheduled or notification received that, if there were a shut-down, no attorney from the Office of the Attorney General would appear on behalf of the Department.

Unfortunately, one issue that is of great importance to our clientele – transportation funding – did not get the attention it needed during the special legislative session.

Unfortunately, one issue that is of great importance to our clientele – transportation funding – did not get the attention it needed during the special legislative session.  Without a funding plan, King County’s METRO Transit will now be implementing plans for a 17% reduction in service.  This is at a time when ridership is at a peak, returning to levels not seen since the start of the recent recession, and when the need for inexpensive and effective transportation by unemployed, undereployed and disabled people is great.  It has been rumored that another special session may be called by Governor Inslee to address transportation funding.

Photo credit: TheeErin / Foter.com / CC BY-ND