12 Days in September

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

President Trump joined with congressional Democrats yesterday to clear three major items from a jam-packed congressional agenda. The stopgap agreement will raise the nation’s debt limit, keep the government open through the end of the calendar year, and provide hurricane relief for the communities and states hardest hit this hurricane season. In doing so, however, Trump and congressional leaders have ensured that an even bigger debate awaits them in December, with an unclear outlook on how it will resolve itself.

The House also passed nearly $8 billion in disaster aid in response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. But with Hurricane Irma bearing down on Puerto Rico and Florida, lawmakers may be called on to pass additional funding soon.

Meanwhile, lawmakers still face an overflowing agenda. Here’s a quick rundown of what else to expect this September:

  • Tax reform: The President and his administration have long signaled that they hope to pass tax reform legislation before the end of the calendar year. Their failure to pass health care reform legislation this summer, however, coupled with a long list of competing priorities, makes this increasingly unlikely.
  • Health care reform: Though congressional leaders have appeared to move on to other, more pressing issues, President Trump continues to indicate he wants lawmakers to take one more shot at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Immigration: Following the President’s decision to rescind the policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the event that Congress fails to craft a solution in the next six months, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are searching for a legislative fix. Democratic leaders have asked Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to the floor for a vote, and have suggested they will attempt to attach the bill to other priority items to force leadership’s hand. Though widely championed by progressives, the legislation could face difficulty garnering bipartisan support.

Meanwhile, the Senate HELP committee will be holding a series of hearings to determine the best path forward on creating stability in the individual health insurance markets. Democrats are certain to use this forum to put a spotlight on the administration’s recent decision to slash funding used to promote the Open Enrollment period that starts November 1st. We’ll have an additional update for you later this week on these and other health care-related items.

Nurses Answer the Call for Help in Wake of Hurricane Harvey


In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, there has been an outpouring of support, especially from our nation’s nurses. Stepping up during tragedies like this is one of the main reasons nurses are considered our nation’s most trusted profession. Please consider supporting those affected by Harvey by donating your time and professional skills, clothing, financial aid, or other resources to the charitable organizations below.

It is an honor to represent and advocate for those on the front line who invariably respond to the call for service in times such as these.


(Photo Credit: Instagram @AllieJPillow;  “Please share so the nurses in Houston hospitals know, relief is on the way!!”)

Texas Nurses Association

Resources for Nurses Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Health and Mental Health Volunteers Needed

Opportunities for Nurses and Nursing Students

Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry

ANA: A Nurse’s Duty to Respond in a Disaster

On Lobby Waterfalls and Safe Staffing


Limousine service, upgraded television setsnurse-to-patient “scripts,” gourmet food service, nurse uniform requirements. Hospitals all over the U.S. are offering more “customer-centric” patient care in order to increase patient satisfaction scores, which are becoming ever more important to raise and maintain Medicare reimbursement amounts.

These efforts, however, often have unintended consequences.

In the first place, customer-centric interventions rarely (if ever) improve the quality of care patients receive. Rather, they merely improve patients’ perceptions of care.

Perhaps the biggest issue with this approach is that nurses have little control over the factors that research shows improve patient satisfaction scores the most. Quality of food service, wait times, physician attentiveness, even staff uniform colors are all factors in patient satisfaction scores—none of which nurses have control over.

Crucially, nurses also have little control over nurse staffing, which research demonstrates is a significant factor in patient satisfaction scores. Short staffing is inherently unsafe and puts patients at risk.

Contrary to gourmet food service, however, improving nurse staffing actually improves the quality of care patients receive, not just their perception of it. The literature shows that improving nurse staffing while controlling for variables (including physicians, LPNs, and nursing assistants) significantly reduces the risk of mortality, lowers the incidence of medication errors and other adverse eventslowers patient readmission ratesreduces nursing-sensitive negative outcomes, and even saves hospitals and insurance companies money—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In an effort to mitigate the unintended consequences of patient satisfaction scores and improve nurse staffing, the American Nurses Association has long advocated for Medicare to include nurse staffing measures next to patient satisfaction scores on its Hospital Compare website.

By doing so, public reporting of nurse staffing on a 1-5 scale will push hospitals to staff more safely and shift patient care interventions from those that improve perceptions of care to those that actually improve care itself. Think about it: nurse staffing is perhaps the single greatest indicator of patient quality of care. Would you rather go to a facility with a five star rating on nurse staffing, or one with a three star rating on nurse staffing, two lobby waterfalls, great patient scripting, and state of the art flat screen tvs?


Give me the better nurse staffing every time.

Unfortunately, Medicare recently declined to include nurse staffing measures on Hospital Compare for Fiscal Year 2018. But the fight is not over. While ANA is proud that we were able to help generate 1,363 comments in support of these staffing measures, and is thankful for the 26 advocacy groups who co-signed our comment letter to the Center for Medicare Services, we are already gearing up for an even bigger grassroots movement next year.

But we’re going to need your help. Stay tuned for more: #nursesunite.