WSNA instrumental in key resolutions at labor conventions

WSNA helped push forward three resolutions at the Washington State Labor Council Convention and the American Federation of Teachers Convention.

This story was published in the Fall 2022 issue of The Washington Nurse.

Universal health coverage

WSNA helped author a resolution at the Washington State Labor Council Convention that seeks “to achieve universal healthcare in our state, in order to advance the work of the Universal Health Care Commission and our healthcare champions in Congress.”

The resolution (2022.09) states that Washington state has created a Universal Health Care Commission to help design and lay the groundwork for a publicly financed universal healthcare plan for all Washingtonians. The resolution also said the state created the Health Care Cost Transparency Board and the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help control healthcare costs.

The resolution said it’s important for the labor movement in Washington state to develop a unified voice in working with the Universal Health Care Commission, the state government, Congress, and the Biden administration to achieve affordable and equitable care for all Washingtonians and all in our nation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated and exacerbated severe racial inequities in health and access to healthcare and has reminded us of the fragility of employment-based health coverage…,” the resolution states.

“At its 2022 national convention, the AFL-CIO, the national association, reaffirmed labor’s long-standing commitment to making quality healthcare a basic right in the United States and its goal “to move forward a single payer system, like Medicare for All, that provides universal coverage using a social insurance model while retaining the critical role of worker’s health plans” (Resolution 10).

The Resolution Committee recommended adoption.

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Safe staffing

At the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention, WSNA was instrumental in resolutions supporting safe staffing and better mental healthcare access.

As the safe staffing resolution states, healthcare professionals being responsible for unreasonable patient loads, relying on inexperienced and agency staff to care for patients, and being expected to work more hours with fewer resources has left them feeling completely unsupported and morally injured, particularly during the pandemic.

The resolution said the current situation has created an existential crisis for the nursing profession.

The resolution cites research published in the American Journal of Nursing (2021 Sept. 1; 121(9):57) that shows that minimum nurse-to-patient ratios improve patient outcomes, such as improvements in mortality, readmissions, and length of stay.

Currently, two states have staffing ratios built into law for all or some patient care units. California has a comprehensive ratios law, and Massachusetts mandates ratios in some patient-care areas.

The resolution resolves that the American Federation of Teachers will seek staffing ratios, or safe patient limits, in at least five states by 2025. The resolution also resolves for the AFT to continue its work to secure staffing ratios in federal law by advocating for the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act and through all available regulatory means.

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Mental health

The resolution calling for expanding mental health services to healthcare workers states that after two years of record hospitalization rates and more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, our nation’s healthcare workforce has been stretched beyond the breaking point and is in a mental health crisis.

The resolution resolves that the AFT will advocate for:

  • The full enforcement of federal mental health services parity laws that require health insurance plans provide the same level of coverage for mental health benefits as they do for medical benefits.
  • Permanent federal funding for the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act that supports healthcare workers through a wide variety of programs to promote mental and behavioral health, including training grants, education and awareness campaigns, grants to employers, and a study on mental and behavioral health and burnout among healthcare workers.
  • Increased funding for financial aid programs that support those seeking training to become mental health professionals and programs to recruit students into mental health careers.

The resolution also supports efforts to expand the mental health benefits of employer health insurance, have labor-management committees create a supportive environment for nurses and health professionals, and develop metrics and strategies that track progress.

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