Each year states and municipalities usher in a new set of laws and regulations that will affect the lives and well-being of everyday people. And while new federal laws are also introduced each year, local laws, rules, and regulations can have a very far reaching impact as well. In some instances, even more so. As nurses we may be challenged to stay abreast of the many new state laws that may impact the health of those that reside in our immediate communities.
For example, beginning January 1, 2020, two hundred and fifty-five (255) new laws will take effect in Illinois. These new laws focus on a number of things such as license plates fees, trade in vehicle tax, sexual harassment, and expanded immigrant rights, to name a few. However, some of the new laws will impact the health and well-being of those residing in the state of Illinois. Of the 255 new laws, 35 are categorized as being health related. (See the sidebar for a brief snapshot of select Illinois legislation that will have implications for the health of residents as well as for the nursing profession.)
Nurses may need to familiarize themselves with the new laws and regulations in their respective states as some may have reporting or continuing education requirements for nurses. For example, beginning January 2020, all nurses (LPNS, RNs, APNS) in Illinois seeking to renew their nursing license will need to complete one hour of continuing education on sexual harassment. Professional nursing organizations, health care employers, and the Illinois State Board of Nursing as well as the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation and others provided information on this new requirement through their various communication platforms.
With the tsunami of information that confronts us each day, where can nurses go to get information about new state legislative initiatives? There a number of avenues to pursue when looking for such information. As each year is winding down and states prepare for the upcoming new year, many news media outlets (e.g., television, radio, and written press) provide a brief snapshot on new legislation. These outlets traditionally do a recap of the year’s activities/milestones and may include this information during various news briefings. Nurses employed in health care settings may wish to ask their Office of Government Affairs to do a brief overview on new legislation with an emphasis on health-related aspects. In fact, health care institutions may have some reporting requirements when new legislation goes into effect, so an update may be helpful.
Select 2020 New Legislation in Illinois
(effective January 1, 2020)
|HB 2895 – Reduce Maternal Mortality||Hospitals providing care to pregnant and postpartum women must train for related issues and implicit bias training and support statewide quality improvement initiatives to reduce racial ethnic disparities.|
|SB 1702 – APRN Practice||Allows APRNs (Advanced Psychiatric Nurses) to complete certificates for commitment and authorize restraints and seclusion for patients.|
|HB 3435/HB 3113/HB 3509 – Expanded Insurance Coverage|
|HB 3435||Plans must cover medically necessary epinephrine pens for people under age 18.|
|HB 3113||Plans must include an annual office visit for a whole body skin examination without out of pocket cost.|
|HB 3509||Coverage for donated breast milk if prescribed by medical professional.|
|HB 3550 – Sex Education and Consent||For students in grades 6–12, sex education is required to have age-appropriate materials and discussion on the meaning of consent.|
|HB 2045 – Eliminates Co-Pays for Committed Individuals||Prohibits the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile from charging co-payments for medical or dental services.|
Departments of Nursing within our various health care settings share nursing related information so that staff can be in compliance of any new regulatory or legislative requirement. Noteworthy, in 2018 the Illinois General Assembly passed the Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act. This legislation focuses on protecting health care workers from violent encounters. An overview of this legislation has been disseminated by a number of professional and specialty nursing organizations, the Illinois Health Association, and many governmental offices. Many health care institutions presented an overview of this new legislation so that health care workers would be aware and that individuals visiting these facilities would know about consequences associated with harming a health care worker.
Locating this type of information need not be laborious. In addition to paying attention to the various news media outlets and working with our institutions to stay abreast of new legislation that may impact heath and the nursing profession, a number of resources are available to assist us in our pursuit of information.
For instance, each state legislature has a website and may post a listing of new legislation to be enacted at the start of a new year. For laws impacting nursing specifically, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides a link to the various state boards of nursing who provide information on new regulatory requirements that affect nursing practice, education, or nursing licensure. State nursing organizations or affiliates of the American Nurses Association also provide information through their various publications, town hall meetings, or periodic legislative updates. If you are not familiar with these offerings, reach out to see if your state nursing association can come to your facility to provide a legislative update. Staying active in one’s professional or specialty organization is yet another way to stay apprised of new pieces of legislation that will impact those you serve or the nursing profession. Each year, The Nurse Practitioner journal produces an annual legislative and regulatory update noting a number of legislative and regulatory implications for advanced nursing practice. In 2020, information for the 32nd Annual APRN Legislative Update is available here.
So, as the saying goes, all politics is local—and all politics on the local level are vitally important!