Ballot Question 1 - Nurse Staffing
The South Shore Chamber of Commerce supports a strong healthcare system for our region. The Chamber is opposed to Question #1 on the November ballot because it threatens the high quality of health care delivered to patients on the South Shore.
The question sets rigid staffing standard for all hospitals, in all units, at all times. It is an unworkable, one-size fits all system, with heavy fines, that limits the ability of doctors, nurses and hospitals to make decisions on how to care for patients. The implications for services in and out of hospitals should concern every resident.
The astronomic cost of the law – estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars – will force hospitals to cut some levels of care and community services. Some community hospitals in our state may be forced to close. The impact on our area hospitals is significant. Annual costs for South Shore Health System will be as high as $33 million, $7 million for BID-Milton, and $5 million for BID-Plymouth. Since the costs cannot be met with cuts in other staffing, those hospitals will need to eliminate or seriously reduce programs and services. That means tens of millions in added healthcare costs while simultaneously losing healthcare services for South Shore residents.
Question 1 would also be devastating to healthcare delivered outside of hospitals, as nurses would be drained from settings like home care, senior care, and mental health treatment. The law would result in the reduction of behavioral health beds throughout Massachusetts, at a time when treatment for mental health and opioid addiction is needed more than ever.
This unproven, one-size-fits-all ignores the complexity of our healthcare system. It will hurt access to care for patients and strap them with increased insurance costs and taxes.
It’s important to recognize that, while the union proposing Question 1 represents less than a quarter of nurses in the Commonwealth, seven leading nursing organizations in the state are opposed to it, as well as over a dozen other preeminent healthcare organizations. They know this is the wrong approach to healthcare. Our Chamber is joined by over 40 other Chambers and business associations in speaking up for patients, employers, and local business that simply can’t afford this law.