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Legislative Developments Affecting Health Care

  • April 12, 2002

The New York State Senate has given final approval to a bill that would protect health care employees from retaliatory action for whistle-blower activities. Backed by the New York State Nurses Association, the legislation prohibits retaliatory action against health care workers who disclose, or threaten to disclose, information to a supervisor or public body about incidences the worker believes constitute improper patient care. It also prohibits retaliatory action by employers against health care workers who refuse to participate in an activity or practice they believe constitutes improper patient care. To invoke the legislation's protection, employees first must have given their employers a "reasonable opportunity" to correct any problems. Health care workers will have the right to sue their employers for alleged violations, and courts could impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 against employers who act in bad faith. The penalties would be deposited into a statewide patient care improvement fund. A copy of the legislation, bill number A09454, is available via the New York State Assembly website

State Funds Pay Raises for Health Care Workers in New York

Gov. George E. Pataki has signed into law a bill to provide $1.8 billion in state funding over the next three years to raise the pay of public and private sector health care employees. The bill (S. 6084) was enacted with strong support from the Service Employees International Union, 1199 National Health and Human Service Employees Union, and would raise Medicaid rates for hospitals, nursing homes and home health care agencies to pass along as wage increases for their employees. "This landmark legislation will enable our members and institutions to deliver the quality health care New Yorkers deserve," Dennis Rivera, president of 1199 SEIU, said in a statement. "We applaud Gov. Pataki and the state Legislature for their leadership in addressing the staffing crisis facing New York's hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and home care agencies." Under the bill, hospitals are scheduled to receive $707 million over three years for their workers, nursing homes $505 million, and home care agencies $636 million. Funding will come from a hike in the state's cigarette tax, a proposed increase in federal funding under Medicaid, and the conversion of Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield from a nonprofit to a for-profit insurance company.

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