09.03.2018

Vote No on 1, Yes on 3, plus more...

Ratio Proponents Issue (Very Inaccurate) TV Ad

The MNA – representing less than 25% of the nurses in the commonwealth – released a television ad last Wednesday and managed in its 30-second length to disseminate false information.

The ad’s main contention – that 86% of RNs in Massachusetts support Question 1 – cannot be true as the poll alleging the support was completed even before Question 1 was assigned. And the small sample size of the poll (302 nurses) plus the fact that nearly half of respondents were MNA union members makes the poll even more suspect. Add that the poll focused on support of “patient limits” and not on the specifics of voting yes or no on Question 1, and the 86% claim becomes even easier to dismiss. Despite repeated requests, the union has refused to release the full findings and methodology of the survey.

The MNA advertisement also cherry-picks a quote out of a New England Journal of Medicine article to give the impression that the cited study endorses ratios. It does no such thing. The 2002 Journal study was not solely focused on nurse staffing and does include the following statement: “[R]esearch on the relation between the level of staffing by nurses in hospitals and patients’ outcomes has been inconclusive.”

“There are no scientific studies or reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of government mandated, one-size-fits-all nurse staffing ratio for improving quality of care, patient outcomes or professional nursing practice.” said Donna Glynn, president of the American Nurses Association and a Nurse Scientist for the VA Boston Healthcare System. The ANA is just one of many nursing groups that oppose the MNA’s ratio ballot question.

The MNA’s “alternative facts” interpretation of solid scientific studies was roundly criticized by two Massachusetts nurses last week, who sent this letter to MNA’s leadership. “You attempt to create the appearance of truth by citing your claims to various studies, but, when examined, it proves you often grossly misrepresent the data and findings. Indeed, in some cases, the studies you point to specifically warn against viewing nurse staffing ratios as a solution,” the nurses write in the letter.

To see the Coalition’s statement on the problematic ad, visit here. For more information on the inaccuracy of the ad and other No on Question 1 campaign news, visit here.

MHA, Healthcare Interests, Many Others Urge YES on Question 3

While the healthcare community is focused intently on defeating Question 1 on the November statewide ballot, passing ballot Question 3 is also garnering wide hospital support.

MHA is part of the Freedom For All Massachusetts coalition urging a Yes vote on Question 3, which would uphold a state law that prohibits discrimination in public places based on gender identity. A no vote would overturn the law that the Massachusetts legislature passed, and Governor Charlie Baker signed, in July 2016. The law went into effect on October 1, 2016.

Those urging a Yes vote in support of the current law are numerous and include from the healthcare community, in addition to MHA: Fenway Health; Health Care For All; athenahealth; Atrius Health; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass.; Cambridge Health Alliance; Harvard Pilgrim; Shields; Tufts Health Plan; UMass Memorial Health Care; Mass. Medical Society; Boston Children’s Hospital; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Boston Medical Center; and Partners HealthCare. A variety of law firms with a healthcare practice, labor unions, individual companies, every major professional sports team in Boston, plus scores of others have signed on to vote Yes on 3.

To learn more about the many coalition members not listed above and about Question 3 in general, visit this Yes on 3 webpage.

GOP Pre-Existing Condition Bill Faces Unclear Path

On August 27, nearly a dozen Republican senators introduced legislation to bar health insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting health conditions and from charging higher premiums due to a person’s health status.

The bill, Ensuring Coverage for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act (S. 3388), was introduced to provide a fallback for patients with pre-existing conditions should a pending court case decide against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The pending court case is Texas vs. United States and it will be heard on September 5 when 20 Republican state attorneys general and two individual plaintiffs will challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate and, with it, the entire ACA.

In a joint release, the Senate sponsors of S. 3388 said that their legislation was a “common-sense solution” to guarantee health coverage, regardless of the court’s ACA ruling so that those with pre-existing conditions would be protected.  However, the bill has come under criticism because, while it requires health insurance plans to insure those with pre-existing conditions, it does not require coverage for the “care” specific to those pre-existing disease conditions, nor does it prevent age or gender discrimination – all issues Democrats have sought to highlight as significant ways the ACA would differ from what is offered in the Senate GOP bill.

And last week Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins called out the bill for failing to protect essential health benefits like maternity care and substance use disorder treatment, which she noted were important components also currently covered by the ACA and threatened by the court case. Nor does the bill require insurers to cover hospitalization – another essential health benefit currently required. S. 3388 has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and no further action has been scheduled.

Are You Ready? September is Preparedness Month

In the event of a public health or medical emergency, a wide-scale threat or a disaster, will you be ready? Each year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management sponsors a statewide campaign to encourage Massachusetts residents, families, and communities to make plans and prepare. The state will be running television ads this month and DPH continues to maintain one central KnowPlanPrepare website here to provide information, tips, and links for the public. The preparedness checklist included in the television ads is available on the site. It is posted as a fillable pdf on which individuals can enter their personal information and print it out for reference.

Monday, Sept. 17: Falls Prevention Day at the State House

The Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition, of which MHA is a member, is holding the 12th Annual Fall Prevention Awareness Day event at the State House on Monday, September 17. The event is co-sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association of Massachusetts and Benchmark Senior Living. In Massachusetts, within one year, more than one in four community-dwelling older adults will fall and of those who fall, over one in three will be injured. However, through some very simple lifestyle changes most falls are preventable. Learn how at this event. For more information about the event, please contact Liz Harnois, Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts at lharnois@biama.org or (508) 475-0032, ext. 14. For more information about the MA Falls Prevention Coalition, click here.

If You Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain

Tomorrow is primary day in Massachusetts where, depending on where you live in the state, there are a series of contested races to see who will appear on the final state ballot in November. Contested primary races include those for including Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senator, State Senator, State Representative, and District Attorney, among others. (Remember, the ballot questions of great interest to the healthcare community and all citizens – see stories above – are not on the primary ballot, but will be on the ballot on November 6.) Who you elect is important. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once told a meeting of Republican state chairmen in Denver in 1955, “Bad officials are elected by good voters who do not vote.”

Labor Day 2018

MHA wishes the approximately 190,000 full-and part-time workers in Massachusetts hospitals a happy and healthy Labor Day. Of course, most hospital workers are at the bedside or at their desks today as the caregiving profession is a 24/7/365 commitment. To the many people who account for our state’s reputation for excellence in medical care – the nurses, doctors, therapists, technicians, case managers, pharmacists, and other caregivers working together as a team, as well as administrative staff, security personnel, food service and facility workers, those who keep hospitals financially sound, among many others, thank you.

17th Annual Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference

Thursday, September 27; 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Sheraton Framingham Hotel 

MHA's Annual Women’s Conference is a power-packed day consisting of sessions created to help you achieve success at any level of your career. Members enjoy a special $199 rate. Join us for a day full of great programming, career support, and networking.  Topics include: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Healthcare, featuring the general manager of IBM Watson Health; and The Story Behind Her Success, featuring radio personality Candy O’Terry conducting interviews with an impressive panel of leaders. A series of micro sessions will follow, focusing on Mastering the Art of Non-Verbal Communication, Becoming Skilled at Everyday Negotiation, and Storytelling as a Leadership Tool. The closing panel is entitled: Success at Any Age: Cross- Generational Leaders Share Their Best Career Advice.  See more details plus registration materials here.

John LoDico, Editor