Contemporary Health Issue Part II: Mandatory Overtime
Contemporary Health Issue 2
The Legislative Process Behind Limiting Mandatory Overtime
Nurses of the 21 century are expected to act quickly and appropriately when confronted with various complex clinical situations in this competitive healthcare market. Nurses cannot do so if they lack the fundamental knowledge of the regulations and statutes that have been established by their particular State Board of Nursing and the government. Therefore, it is imperative that the nurses have a solid understanding of the legislative process, as it could affect the way in which he/she delivers quality patient care. This paper will discuss the steps in the legislative process in regard to the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2005, detail history of similar types of legislation, and note the stand various healthcare organizations have taken on the issue of mandatory overtime.
The Legislative Process
The Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2005, bill S. 351 and H.R. 791, was proposed with the intent to "improve working conditions for nurses and quality of care for patients. It limits the ability of hospitals and other healthcare providers to require mandatory overtime from nurses." This is a process that does not happen overnight. So the question arises, what is the process of introducing bill to legislative bodies and once introduced how do they become law? According the website www.genome.gov , there are potentially 10 steps a bill can go Contemporary Health Issue 3
through before becoming a law. The following quotation includes excerpts taken from the website Step 1: A bill is born- Anyone can draft a bill; however, only members of Congress can introduce legislation, and, by doing so become the sponsor(s). Step 2: Committee Action- Once the bill is introduced; it is then referred to committee. The bill is then examined carefully and its chances for passage are first determined. Step3: Subcommittee Review- Bills are often referred to a subcommittee for study and hearings. Hearings provide the opportunity to put on the record the views of executive branch, experts, other public officials and supports, and opponents of the legislation. Step 4: Mark Up- When the hearings are completed, the subcommittee may meet to "mark up" the bill; that is make changes and amendments prior to recommending the bill to full committee. The subcommittee can either vote or not vote for the bill. If they don't vote for the bill, it dies immediately. Step 5: Committee Action to Report a Bill- After receiving the full report from the subcommittee the full committee votes on its recommendation to the House or Senate. Step 6: Voting- After the debate and approval of any amendments, the bill is passed or defeated by the member voting. Step 7: Referral to Other Chamber- When the House or Senate passes a bill, it is referred to the other chamber where is follows the same path of committee to Contemporary Health Issue 4
floor action. This chamber may approve the bills as received, reject it, ignore it, or change it. Step 8: Conference Committee Action- When the actions of the other chamber significantly alter the bill, a conference committee is formed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate version. Step 9: Final Action- After the House and Senate has a bill in identical form, it is sent to the president. (www.genome.gov ) Now let's consider the aforementioned process in terms of The Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2005. This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Pete Stark and Steven LaTourette with 99 cosponsors; the bill was then taken to the chief clerk and numbered H.R. 791. An identical bill was introduced in the Senate by Edward Kennedy with 18 cosponsors; the bill was taken to the chief clerk and numbered S.351. H.R. 791 was subsequently referred to the House Energy and...