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That shortage concerns New York’s health care providers.

William Van Slyke, spokesman for the Healthcare Association of New York State, said the organization representing health care networks and hospitals supports having a better educated nursing workforce, but opposes a four-year degree mandate.

One problem, he said, is the lack of nursing faculty _ the same issue advocates say the bill would address.

“If you start the clock and you don’t have the educational system, we may find ourselves having to turn away staff and have shortages,” Van Slyke said.

The association has proposed legislation that would provide incentives like loan forgiveness to encourage people to become nurse educators, he said, but lawmakers haven’t taken up the idea.

Morelle, the Assembly sponsor, said the state’s community colleges also have expressed concerns that the requirement will cut into the number of people seeking the 2-year degrees they offer.

“Their classes are overflowing,” Morelle said, and there is a “whole host of programs” that allow students to progress from a 2-year to a 4-year program.

A spokesman for the New York nurses association said New York City metropolitan area hospitals are increasingly requiring new RNs to have a bachelor’s degree or earn one within five years, creating a disparity in standards between downstate and upstate, where fewer candidates have four-year degrees.

“Even without the legislation in place, hospitals and other medical facilities are making hiring decisions that favor those with BSN degrees over those without them,” said Dr. Peggy Tallier, program director and associate professor in nursing school health at Mercy College.