Jan 152015
 

Since 2010, there has been an unprecedented shortage of many pharmaceutical drugs used by hospitals. The annual number of these shortages nearly tripled from 2007 to 2012. At least 80% of hospitals surveyed reported they have to restrict or ration chemotherapy and other critical-care medications. Most of these hospitals have had to delay treatments and many patients have received less-effective substitute drugs. There are currently about 300 “active”, or ongoing, shortages of pharmaceutical drugs despite new rules put in place by Congress and the FDA. There are many reasons for these deficiencies including shortages of raw materials and unexpected increases in demand. Some pharmaceutical firms claim to have experienced manufacturing and quality-control problems. Other drug makers have decided to stop making older, less profitable drugs knowing that the FDA can’t force them to keep making a drug it wants to discontinue. If a company is the sole supplier of a drug, it is required to notify the FDA six months before it anticipates a shortage of that medication. This important time-period is needed for physicians to acquire substitute medications before a crisis occurs. However, this rule is not enforced and companies do not face any legal consequences if they fail to notify the FDA in time to prevent a shortage. Health advocates say these shortages can cause great harm to patients who depend upon these drugs. Besides being forced to use inferior substitutes, there are no studies that predict the effectiveness of a drug that is substituted in the middle of a regimen.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current drug shortage policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill that imposes stricter penalties for pharmaceutical companies that do not report potential drug shortages in a timely manner

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring our government to stockpile chemotherapy and other critical-care drugs to prevent manufacturer shortages

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) provides funding to 62 States, territories and municipalities to improve surge capacity and enhance hospital preparedness for large-scale disasters. Over the years, more than $4 billion in HPP grants have been awarded to increase the response effectiveness of hospitals and community healthcare coalitions across the nation. These coalitions include emergency management, public health, mental/behavioral health providers, and community and faith-based partners. Besides organizing and coordinating these groups when responding to a disaster, HPP grants also provide funding for hospitals to continually plan, equip, train, exercise and evaluate effective emergency response strategies. This hospital preparedness program is credited with saving many lives during Superstorm Sandy, the Aurora theatre shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings. However, advocates are concerned our emergency preparedness has suffered from recent cuts in the HPP budget –including a 30% cut in 2013. HPP’s 2004 budget was $500 million but has been cut each year since. Today, the HPP only has enough to distribute $255 million among 5,000 U.S. hospitals. Advocates say these latest cuts have led to staff reductions which will make it very challenging for these health-care coalitions to expand and be maintained.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current hospital preparedness program policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to reestablish and make permanent the original level of funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program and to index this funding level to the rate of inflation

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The first of nearly 80 million baby boomers recently entered our Medicare system, bringing their health problems and high healthcare expectations with them. Fully implemented, the Affordable Care Act will also bring nearly 30 million more Americans into our healthcare system. For some time, there has been a shortage of professional nurses to staff hospitals and retirement facilities, as well as for those needed in private practice. It is estimated that 450,000 new nurses will be needed in the next few years to meet this demand. Older people require considerably more healthcare services than the young, making the current nursing shortage a dire situation. The reasons for this shortage include an aging nurse population and not enough young recruits. The median age of our nurse population is 46 and more than half are close to retirement. More of a problem, advocates say, is the lack of nurse educators. Often, nurses do not begin teaching until they are in their 50s, after finishing their nursing careers. Their pay is relatively low and most don’t teach for long. These short academic careers are causing havoc with our health care system. Due to a lack of faculty, more than 75,000 qualified nursing applicants were turned away from nursing schools in 2012. Colleges say that searches for nursing school deans can take years. The nurses working in today’s hospitals are short-staffed, extremely overworked and many report they are dissatisfied with their job. It is not uncommon for nurses to be “asked” to work 12-hour shifts, sometimes longer. The shortage of nurses is causing some emergency rooms to redirect patients to more distant hospitals. Healthcare advocates claim these conditions result in longer waiting times for treatment, more mistakes by health care providers and more patient deaths. Studies have shown that nurse shortages contribute to nearly a quarter of all unexpected problems that result in death or injury to hospital patients each year.

Pending Legislation:

S.739 & H.R.1907 – National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act

H.R.1907 – Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2013

I oppose forming current nursing shortage policy and wish to defeat S.739 & H.R.1907

I support requiring hospitals to implement a staffing plan that includes a minimum direct care registered nurse-to-patient ratio by unit and compliance with minimum licensed practical nurse staffing requirements. Directs the HHS Secretary to adjust Medicare payments to hospitals to cover additional costs incurred in providing services to Medicare beneficiaries that are attributable to compliance with such ratios; gives a nurse the right to act as the patient’s advocate, including by initiating action to improve health care or to change decisions or activities that are against the interests and wishes of the patient, and giving the patient an opportunity to make an informed decision about health care before it is provided; authorizes a nurse to refuse to accept an assignment if it would violate minimum ratios under this Act or if the nurse is not prepared by education, training, or experience to fulfill the assignment without compromising the safety of any patient or jeopardizing the nurse’s license. Prohibits a hospital from taking specified actions against a nurse based on the nurse’s refusal to accept an assignment for such a reason; or discriminating against any patient, employee, or any other individual for good faith complaints or grievances relating to the care, services, or conditions of the hospital or of any affiliated or related facilities, and wish to pass S.739 & H.R.1907

 Posted by at 12:00 am