So, you are wondering why I’m writing a blog post about a ballot question. Fair enough. Here’s why: As an advocate for mental health care and affordable healthcare and medication, this ballot question is extreme important. I would ask that you please read this and consider my points.
First, I come by this information because of my involvement in the Mass General Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council. I would not have know enough about this question and now that I do, I’m desperate to spread the word. I will attempt to be concise but thorough.
What the deal with Question No. 1? This is a piece of legislation that the MA Nurses Association has been trying to push through the legislature for 20 years. But has had so little support that it has never even gotten out of committee or been sponsored as a bill. So the went the ballot question route.
Who are the MA Nurses Association? The are the nurses union in MA. Unfortunately the represent less than 1/3 of all nurses. And many of their members are against the ballot question anyway.
Why is this an issue? There are some hospitals, mostly rural hospitals, that are asking their nurses to to too much. In a small number of locations, there is a problem with understaffing of nurses. However, this is not a pervasive problem in MA.
What are some of the details of this bill that make it a problem?
- These staffing regulations do not take into account day of the week, time of day, needs of a particular floor, the experience level of nurses, or any other real world considerations of staffing.
- This law would require implementation over the course of just 37 business days. In some cases MGH spends 6 months “onboarding” new nursing staff.
- There is already a nursing shortage in MA. This law would likely lead to less quality in nursing staff even if the quantity is increased.
- The hospitals that are stretching their staffs too thin are generally hospitals in financial trouble. It is likely that those hospitals will have to close in the wake of this law. That would create an even worse situation for the people in those communities.
- Each “violation” of the law would incur a $25,000 fine that goes… nobody really knows.
- It would force hospitals to “float” nurses to different areas of the hospital where they may not be comfortable to be in compliance, again sacrificing quality for quantity.
Do any other states have this law? Only California has this law. They took 5 years to implement the law. There is no fine. And, the California rank of outcomes is considerably lower than MA, which happens to be ranked 2nd in the nation in terms of medical outcomes. Clearly not a broken system.
How much will this cost ME as a consumer? Well, the estimated start up cost to the MA medical system is close to $2 Billion Dollars with an annual expense of an additional $1.3 Billion dollars annually. THIS IS TOTALLY UNFUNDED. It will not take long for that cost to be passed on to you and me in terms of higher insurance rates, copays, and deductibles.
I’m generally a liberal guy. I don’t have a problem with government regulation. But, in my opinion, this law totally goes above the reasonable function of government. I think the state has a right to demand that its citizens have access to quality medical care. But telling hospitals how to provide that care in such detail is inherently inappropriate.
Please join me in voting No. on Question 1 this Nov. And, please spread the word about how damaging this law could be to our state, its medical infrastructure, and ultimately you and I.
By the way, the pic is of a bumper sticker that I saw in the parking lot at Milton Hospital this month when I was there for the Adult ADHD support group that I run.
Standard Disclaimer: In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.