Emergency Accountable Funding Is a Strong Step Forward but State Lawmakers Must Also Prioritize Passing the “Patient Safety Act” to Respond to the Catastrophic Staffing Crisis
For Immediate Release: January 26, 2022
(Harrisburg, PA) – Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare PA, issued the following statement in response to the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s passage of HB 253, which provides an infusion of $225 million to support hospital workers:
“We appreciate and applaud Governor Wolf and the legislature for listening to nurses and hospital workers and taking action on their demands. These bipartisan votes to direct emergency financial resources to the bedside and to support our essential caregivers during this pandemic is a good step towards the urgent reform that’s needed.
“The legislatures’ responsiveness, and the bipartisan leadership from Gov. Tom Wolf shows that our state government can act quickly and forcefully to address this public health crisis and choose to protect workers by including strong language that will hold hospitals accountable to directing 100% of these resources to bedside care.” – Matt Yarnell
“As important as this infusion of emergency funding is, we also call upon state lawmakers to urgently address the deep and structural crises facing our healthcare workers – such as passing the “Patient Safety Act” to end the catastrophic short-staffing crisis and require more resources for bedside care for our patients.
“It is vital that our nurses and healthcare workers have a seat at the table, both in Harrisburg and with management at every hospital and system, to have our voices heard, our experience honored, and our solutions adopted to improve healthcare in Pennsylvania.”
BACKGROUND: According to Gov. Wolf’s office, HB253, as amended, uses federal ARPA funds to support the healthcare workforce with $100 million to be distributed to all hospitals on a per-bed basis to be used strictly for recruitment and retention payments to key staff, $110 million to be distributed on a per-bed basis to high-Medical Assistance hospitals, designated Critical Access Hospitals, and inpatient behavioral health facilities for the same purpose.
The funding bill also includes $15 million for the existing nurse loan forgiveness program at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) – a high-demand program which has already received over 8,000 applications for its existing $5 million budget.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting tens of thousands of professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home- and community-based services, and state facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of health care workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians