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Costly nurse staffing initiative avoided through a compromise

Publish Date: 7/8/2014

Up until recently, the Massachusetts Nurses Association was promoting two ballot questions on nurse-patient ratios and hospital financial transparency. The staffing ratio initiative would have set ratios in all hospital units, and the other initiative would have regulated CEO compensation and annual operating margins as well as required financial asset disclosures of hospitals and other facilities.  The Massachusetts Hospital Association strongly opposed both initiatives.

As the deadline approached for the MNA to collect signatures for the ballot initiatives, it launched TV and radio ad campaigns highlighting hospital CEO compensation. YouTube videos were also used by nurses to voice their concerns about staffing.

However, in an attempt to avoid costly and arduous ballot campaigns for both MNA and MHA, both sides were able to come to a last minute compromise. They agreed to language requiring a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio depending on the stability of the patient in the ICU only. As part of the compromise, MNA agreed to drop its ballot initiative push if the bill was signed by the Governor by July 2, 2014. The bill made it quickly through the House and Senate and was rushed to Governor Patrick for his signature on June 30, 2014.

While the two organizations were able to find a compromise, do not expect this issue to disappear. The MNA has stated it will continue to pursue legislation for staffing ratios throughout Massachusetts hospitals.  

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