1199SEIU Strongly Rejects Modified Nursing Home Staffing Bill A382, Assails No-Notice Committee Vote

June 19, 2019

1199SEIU Strongly Rejects Modified Nursing Home Staffing Bill A382, Assails No-Notice Committee Vote

Below is a statement from Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU:

“Yesterday the Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to pass an amended version of A382 that drastically changes the scope of legislation designed to improve bedside care in nursing homes. The modified bill was voted on without advance public notice or opportunity for nursing home workers and patient advocates to testify and was headed for its full Assembly vote as soon as tomorrow.

“A382 was intended to improve staffing levels of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in New Jersey nursing homes, which have consistently ranked among the very worst in the nation. The unadulterated version of the bill was identical to one that the legislature already passed three years ago before being vetoed by then-Gov. Christie, and to the current Senate version, S1612, which passed last summer in its original form.

“In its new iteration, the amendments to A382 dilute the staffing requirements to such an extent as to make them virtually pointless. This is a poison pill and bad public policy, instigated by an industry lobby that has shown no desire to make meaningful changes to the status quo.

“For years, New Jersey nursing homes have ranked near the bottom in the country for CNA staffing hours per resident and compare unfavorably on a number of associated quality care indicators such as the percent of nursing home patients with pressure sores. Yet despite our state’s nursing home industry receiving billions in taxpayer Medicaid and Medicare funding, facilities face little accountability in how these resources are spent, or not spent, on actual bedside care.

“The manner by which last-minute changes were made to this legislation, which 1199SEIU members have spent years championing, is completely unacceptable and outrageous. It is an affront to the thousands of nursing home residents and caregivers who are fed up with the unsafe and degrading staffing conditions that run rampant in our state’s for-profit nursing home industry. It is an attack on the thousands of New Jersey nursing home workers, overwhelmingly women and people of color, who do some of the most difficult, emotionally and physically draining, underpaid yet important work there is caring for our society’s most vulnerable.

“The caregivers of 1199SEIU strongly reject and condemn this altered bill and the manner by which it received its Appropriations hearing. We call on the Assembly legislators to put the original A382 to the floor for a vote now.”

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1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New Jersey and nationwide. We represent over 16,000 healthcare families in New Jersey and over 400,000 total members throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C.   Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.