AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

NEXT STEP IN HEALTH REFORM: ENSURING SAFE AND EFFECTIVE PATIENT CARE

WHEREAS, the focus of national health reform has been on containing costs and improving access to healthcare while well-documented problems with the quality of care patients receive in hospitals and other facilities continue to undermine the effectiveness of our healthcare system; and

WHEREAS, more than 10 years after the Institute of Medicine report "To Err is Human—Building a Better Health Care System," which estimated that at least 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of preventable medical errors and that medical errors cost the U.S. as much as $29 billion per year, there is little evidence that progress has been made to address these problems; and

WHEREAS, hospitals are again cutting staff despite an extensive body of research that demonstrates that appropriate, consistent staff levels—particularly RN staffing—reduce negative outcomes such as medical errors, infection rates and mortality; and

WHEREAS, the same concern exists in schools, home healthcare, long-term care and mental health settings where budgetary pressures have resulted in the elimination of staff who are crucially important to ensuring the safety of patients and the health of vulnerable populations; and

WHEREAS, the health reform legislation recently passed has many positive elements and is a genuine step toward the goal of creating a comprehensive system that provides quality healthcare to all Americans; however it has worrisome provisions including a tax starting in 2018 on the types of comprehensive health insurance packages that union members have sacrificed wage increases in order to achieve:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to work for passage of legislation and regulation that requires safe staffing standards for nurses and other health personnel in hospitals, schools and other settings where care is delivered; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with its affiliates and other healthcare groups to develop creative strategies, in addition to legislation, for addressing the long-standing problem of unsafe staffing in hospitals and other institutions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work to increase public awareness of the relationship between staffing and patient safety and to raise the level of urgency associated with addressing these important concerns and consider the possibility of a new campaign on the issue; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT, knowing that the legislation signed into law in March 2010 marks only a first step forward, not the full health reform our system needs, continue to advocate for changes in the health system such as the creation of "Medicare for all" plan or a public option as well as the elimination of the excise tax and other improvements.


(2010)