Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieris vetoes of two bills last week may complicate legislators efforts to find solutions for the states growing challenges to healthcare quality and mounting debt at hospitals.
One bill sought to ban hospitals from requiring nurses and nursing assistants to work mandatory overtime, while the second would have required health insurers and employers to help shoulder hospitals growing burden of bad debt resulting from unpaid patient copayments and deductibles.
The proposed mandatory overtime ban, which received near-unanimous support from both the state House and Senate, would have prevented hospitals from forcing nurses and nursing assistants to work longer than their agreed-upon eight-, 10- or 12-hour shifts, except in the case of emergencies or disasters. Hospitals would have faced a fine of $300 per violation under the legislation.
The bad-debt legislation, passed by the General Assembly two weeks ago, would have required insurance companies to reimburse hospitals for a portion of unpaid patient copayments and deductibles.
But Carcieri said the legislation would likely accelerate the increase in Rhode Islands health insurance problems by passing on the cost of bad-debt sharing to consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums and increase the number of uninsured by limiting employers ability to offer high-deductible plans.
Sen. John Tassoni Jr., the Democratic state senator who sponsored the nurse-overtime bill, said he expects the Legislature, which is now in recess, to call a special override session after the July 4 holiday to address the vetoed health legislation. -- by Shawn Rhea