Somerville News Weekly: THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call begins are three-part series that looks at the three ballot questions that will be on the November 6 ballot. First up: Question 1.
Question 1 asks voters if they approve of a proposed law that would “limit how many patients could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other healthcare facilities. The maximum number of patients per registered nurse would vary by type of unit and level of care.”
Gov. Charlie Baker’s Office of Administration and Finance is required by law to analyze the fiscal consequences if the proposed law is approved.
“This proposed law may affect both state and municipal revenues and expenditures, with state-owned hospitals required to expend between an estimated $67.8 million and $74.8 million annually to comply with the proposed law, and the Health Policy Commission required to expend an estimated $1.28 million annually to monitor compliance,” says the Baker Administration.
“There will also be an impact on MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, and state-funded employee and retiree health care obligations to the extent that the initiative increases hospital costs or causes hospital closures. The overall fiscal consequences to state and municipal finances, however, are difficult to project due to the lack of reliable data.”
The sponsors and opponents of the issue are passionate.
“Right now there are no limits to the number of patients that a nurse can be assigned at the same time, and when it comes down to it, many voters recognize that this is about creating a standard of care for the already-vulnerable patients in our hospitals,” Kate Norton, spokesperson for the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care, the group urging a “yes” vote on Question 1 told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “It’s no secret that hospital executives are pouring millions into their deceptive opposition campaign, and though we may get outspent, we certainly won’t be outworked.”
Norton concluded, “There has been overwhelming support for a yes vote on Question 1, not just from nurses out knocking on doors every day, but also from the people across the commonwealth who know they may be patients themselves and want the best quality of care possible, and who know that the safe patient limits proposed by Question 1 are the right choice for safety.”