CANTON, Mass. — The Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today that it has collected and will submit the final round of signatures needed for two ballot initiatives that will dramatically improve patient safety in Massachusetts’ hospitals and ensure that tax dollars for health care are used for patient care not excessive CEO compensation or accounts in the Cayman Islands.
More than 50,000 signatures on both measures were gathered by nurses and supporters from health care, social justice, labor and senior advocacy groups throughout the Commonwealth, who were out in their communities, at special events, shopping centers and local festivals over a four week period. Both initiatives met with wide acceptance by the public. Allowing MNA/NNU to submit well over the 11,000 signatures required by law to place each question on the ballot in November. Once town clerks certify the signatures, the petitions will be delivered to the Secretary of State for final approval.
“We are thrilled that the public is so receptive to both of these important initiatives. It’s a testament to how important the issues of safe patient limits and hospital financial transparency are to the public,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the MNA/NNU. “Many voters were shocked to learn that there is currently no limit on the number of patients hospitals can assign to a registered nurse at one time. And most voters expressed outrage that hospitals are storing tax dollars in offshore accounts and paying their CEOs excessive compensation, while hospital administrators cut services vital to communities.”
A recent poll of Massachusetts voters on both questions finds strong support for both measures, with nearly 7 in 10 voters (67 percent) supporting the Patient Safety Act and 6 in 10 voters (60 percent) supporting the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act.
The Patient Safety Act (HB 3843) – Safe Patient Limits Will Save Lives
On Wednesday, June 18, the MNA/NNU will deliver petitions with more than 25,000 signatures to town clerks for certification of the Patient Safety Act, a ballot initiative that will set a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse, while also providing flexibility to hospitals to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on the needs of the patients.
Dozens of studies and reports have shown the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse if we are to avoid -- mistakes, serious complications and preventable readmissions. To view these studies and to learn more about the initiative, visit PatientSafetyAct.com.
A recent survey found that nearly 8 in 10 registered nurses (78 percent) in Massachusetts hospitals say that patient care is suffering because hospitals require nurses to care for too many patients at once, and nearly 9 in 10 nurses (88 percent) support the Patient Safety Act. A survey of physicians in Massachusetts found 6 in 10 doctors (62%) believe hospital care is suffering because of excessive patient loads for nurses, and a majority (58 percent) support the initiative.
The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act (HB 3844)
On June 18 the MNA/NNU will also deliver petitions with more than 25,000 signatures to town clerks for certification of the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act. The law would require that hospitals receiving tax dollars disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.
“Every hospital, receives a substantial amount of money from tax dollars to provide health care for the residents of Massachusetts, yet there is no way for the public and policy makers to know how those taxpayer dollars are allocated,” said Julie Pinkham, RN, Executive Director of MNA/NNU. “Too many hospitals store money in the Cayman Islands or use tax dollars for excessive CEO compensation, while community hospitals that serve predominately poor patients are struggling to survive. The public has a right to know how and where their health care dollars are being spent.”
7 in 10 doctors (72 percent) favor the Transparency Initiative and believe that greater financial transparency will help to protect valuable patient services.
The legislature has until July 2 to act on both initiatives, and if they fail to do so, both measures will appear as a ballot question this November.