Minn. hospital staffing bill appears stalled

A bill that would require Minnesota hospitals to meet national standards on nurse staffing appears headed for a roadblock in the Legislature.

DFL Rep. Tina Liebling, the chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, said she does not intend to hold a hearing on the bill unless the Minnesota Nurses Association and the hospitals start hinting at a compromise.

The union is lobbying in favor of the legislation because it says nurse staffing levels in some hospitals are too low and could put patients in danger.

Liebling said she is not sure that creating staffing standards is the best answer.

"I think it goes way too far in that respect because we don't measure inputs anymore," Liebling said. "We're trying to get away from measuring inputs in health care. We measure outcomes. We have hospitals that are very different across the state, and one-size-fits-all really doesn't work."

The Senate sponsor of the bill said he will continue to push for a hearing in his committee. Hospitals have been lobbying against the bill because they say it would add to cost of health care.

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