Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Address Hawai‘i, Nationwide Nursing Shortage

February 22, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, today announced support for bipartisan legislation to address the severe shortage of nurses in Hawai’i and across the country. The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act (H.R.5052) would direct Medicare-participating hospitals to develop nurse staffing plans that ensure an adequate number of nurses to meet patient needs and improve patient safety. Without adequate registered nurse staffing, patients are at higher risk for prolonged hospital stays, increased infections, avoidable medication errors, falls, injuries, and even death. Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

“Nurses are the driving force of our healthcare system, providing top-notch healthcare while ensuring patient safety and comfort,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “Unfortunately too many hospitals, especially in our rural and under-served communities, face a nursing shortageputting patient lives and health at risk and driving up hospital costs. Adding nurses to hospital staffing plans would help to dramatically prevent hospital deaths, reduce infections and hospital re-admissions, and save hospitals nearly $3 billion. Our bipartisan legislation will support and empower nurses in Hawai‘i and across the country to deliver quality healthcare for all.”

“As a husband of a nurse, I have experienced first-hand the many challenges and responsibilities nurses face on a day to day basis,” said Congressman David Joyce. “Ensuring patient safety and care has always been a priority but has faced many challenges when nurses are over worked and hospitals are under staffed. As Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, I am proud to introduce legislation that addresses the issue and protects our patients and nurses.”

“RN staffing makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care,” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association. “Appropriate nurse staffing keeps patients safe and protects them from preventable complications, even lowering the risk of death. Nursing care is like medication—we would never withhold a medication when we know its lifesaving effects. The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act empowers direct care nurses to determine the unique and variable needs of their patients to ensure the safety and quality outcomes of care.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus with Rep. David Joyce (OH-14). The congresswoman joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce H.R.959, Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act in February of 2017. The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support nurses across the United States. The congresswoman has also hosted a congressional briefing focused on the severe shortage of nurses in Hawai‘i and across the country. She also supports HR676 Improved Medicare For All.

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Bill that Undermines Civil Rights Protections for Americans with Disabilities

Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted against legislation that unravels civil rights protections for millions of individuals with disabilities in Hawai‘i and across the country. H.R. 620 undermines the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by placing burdensome requirements on individuals with disabilities, making it more difficult for them to access equal rights protections. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 225-192.

According to the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, 15 percent of Hawai‘i residents are disabled – higher than the national average. The National Federation for the Blind of Hawai‘i also reported that Hawai‘i is home to roughly 22,700 people with a visual disability, who would be disproportionately burdened by the hurdles enacted by H.R. 620.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “For more than 25 years, the ADA has been instrumental in expanding and protecting fair, equal opportunities for disabled Americans. H.R. 620 unravels this progress, making it easier for employers to skirt around discrimination laws and requiring people with disabilities to jump through hoops for the equal access protections to which they are entitled. I’ve heard from many community organizations in Hawai‘i that shared how this legislation would hurt our more than 210,000 disabled residents. I stand with them in strong opposition to this harmful legislation.”

National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii said, “The leaders and members of the National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii strongly oppose H. R. 620, the so-called ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Education and Reform Act.  If this bill becomes law, it will diminish the rights of blind people by eroding the foundation of the ADA. Passed with strong bi-partisan support and signed into law by president George H. W. Bush in 1990, the ADA assures that all Americans with disabilities have the right to live free from exclusion and discrimination in any way in American society.  The ADA ensures that anyone with a disability can enjoy the benefits of living in our free and open state and country alongside all other citizens.  In short, the ADA is the persons with disabilities equality act, which must not be diminished in either its force or effect.  We call upon everyone in Hawai‘i and throughout the U. S. to join us in opposing H.R. 620, which is a deceptive attempt to repeal the ADA.” 

Aloha State Association of the Deaf said, “Aloha State Association of the Deaf strongly opposes this bill because it will affect Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing citizens of Hawai‘i.”

Special Olympics Hawaii said, “Special Olympics strongly supports legislation that guarantees the rights, full participation, and integration of people with intellectual disabilities (ID). We appreciate the progress that has been made towards eliminating the stigma, stereotypes, isolation, and discrimination that people with intellectual disabilities face – most importantly around access to sport, health, and education. We ask Congress to remain vigilant against any erosion of any provisions that have made a substantial difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”

H.R. 620 is opposed by numerous civil rights, disability rights, and other organizations including AARP, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP,  Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Association of Justice (AAJ), ACLU, AFSCME, National Disability Rights Network, American Association of People with Disabilities, National Council of Disability, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Easterseals, National Foundation of the Blind, and United Cerebral Palsy.

Background:

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long called for expanding federal protections against discrimination on the basis of national origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, gender, or race. She is a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would add sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list of protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. H.R. 2282 would expand federal protections to end discrimination in public accommodations, state and local government services, public education, federal financial assistance, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of H.R.1734 and H.R. 1772, which will increase access to technology, education, and employment opportunities for blind individuals, and H.R. 1377, which phases out subminimum wages for workers with disabilities.

 

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COFA Act Continues Commitment to Upholding Health Care Promises in Compacts of Free Association

Micronesians, Palau, and the Marshall Islands come to Hawaii and the rest of the United States through the Compact of Free Association (COFA), a law that guarantees Americans and Micronesians easy entry into one another’s countries. COFA allows migrants in the U.S. a status nearly identical to that of a native-born American citizen. The U.S., in turn, enjoys exclusive military access and base rights to the strategic waters of Micronesia.

Hawaii Congressional Delegation Leads Effort to Restore Health Care Access for FAS Citizens

June 21, 2017 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz, and Representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard introduced legislation to reinstate Medicaid coverage for Freely Associated States (FAS) citizens living in the United States.

The Covering our FAS Allies (COFA) Act would restore Medicaid coverage, known in Hawaii as Med-QUEST, for FAS citizens. The United States entered into the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the governments of the Freely Associated States (FAS), which include the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau that allow FAS citizens to live in the United States and receive certain benefits, including medical coverage. However, in 1996, Congress cut off FAS citizens from access to certain Medicaid benefits.

“This bill will right a wrong that has gone on for far too long,” said Representative Gabbard. “The Federal Government made a promise to these individuals, and it must uphold that commitment, and provide Medicaid to FAS citizens from Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands.”

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