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Tonko backs effort to cap nurses rising pay

Jan 31, 2022 5:33 am

The world is in its third year of a deadly virus that has taxed healthcare workers like no others. At the same time, some members of Congress, including Paul Tonko locally, have signed on to a letter to get the federal government to cap nurses pay. HealthAffairs.org reports that, "An unprecedented number of nurses are retiring early and exiting the workforce or quitting their hospital employment to return as employees of staffing agencies." Tonko and the other representatives see rising wages for nurses as a problem. "We are writing because of our concerns that certain nurse-staffing agencies are taking advantage of these difficult circumstances to increase their profits at the expense of patients and the hospitals that treat them," the letter to White House COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator Jeffrey Zients says. The almost 200 Congressional representatives signing on to the letter are a mixed lot, with far-right figures such as Elise Stefanik, conservative Republican Liz Cheney, centrist Democrat Tonko, and liberal Ilhan Omar all in favor. Nurses, however, mostly do not want their salaries capped. There is evidence that nursing wages are up, like in many other fields with high demand for workers. The American Health Care Association last year sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, urging the FTC to protect consumers from anti-competitive and unfair practices regarding agency staffing. Tonko, who represents all of Albany County and other parts of the Capital District, was not joined by Hudson Valley Democrats Antonio Delgado nor Sean Maloney in signing the letter.