Doctoring the Nurse-Patient-Ratios

Published on

Tipsters tell ArnoldWatch that
lobbyists for the state hospital association were livid when they
realized that Arnold’s freeze of all pending state regulations was too
late to put a stop to newly minted rules for adequate nurse-to-patient
ratios. The regulations require a standardized ratio of
nurses-to-patients in health care facilities and is loathed by the
state’s hospital lobby.

Hospital executives, hopeful for a second bite at the apple, may have
hit upon a workable strategy: Take advantage of the state’s health care
crisis. Word is hospitals will soon call for the declaration of a state
of health care emergency – using the flu epidemic and lack of available
hospital space in ERs and ICUs as their excuse – to suspend the
finalized regulations. The Administrative Procedures Act, which governs
regulatory matters, allows its operations to be suspended only after a
state of emergency has been declared. Then Schwarzenegger can rewrite
the rules more to the health care industry’s liking.

An intercepted internal Schwarzenegger Administration memo from the
press office seems to back the theory. It discusses hot topics and what
the official line is on them. It says, "Regulations: The nurse-patient
ratio is going into effect on Jan 1. We are telling reporters this
along with giving them a little background about the process DHS would
go through to change them once they are implemented (which is the
regular process any reg would go through)." Regs typically are not
changed the day after implementation.

ArnoldWatch also received word that the hospital lobby has been taking
Schwarzenegger staffers on private hospital tours in their attempt to
dump the nurse ratios as unworkable. Adding hard cash to political
prodding, Arnold pocketed $21,200 from Steven Francis, the CEO of AMN
Healthcare which specializes in recruiting RNs and less-qualified
healthcare professionals.

As the Southern California hospital association’s top exec Jim Lott
recently told radio listeners on Warren Olney’s "Which Way L.A." show:

"The Administration controls the regulatory process and they are the
ones who actually came up with most of these ratios that we are going
to be confronted with, so the Administration giveth, they can take it
away. "

Consumer Watchdog
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