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Legislative Update April 24, 2015

24 Apr
Legislative Update April 24, 2015

 

Biennenial Budget

With less than a month to go in the 2015 Legislative Session, there’s little consensus on the next state budget, and healthcare is the biggest argument. Even though the state has a $1.9 billion surplus, the GOP’s proposed budget provides for $2 billion in tax cuts and cuts $1 billion from Health and Human Services.  House Republicans want to slash healthcare so they can give cuts to big business, including eliminating the corporate property tax altogether.

Rep. Matt Dean’s (R-Dellwood) proposal is to drop MinnesotaCare entirely.  MinnesotaCare is the insurance program for about 90,000 Minnesotans who make too much money for Medicaid but not enough to buy insurance through an exchange.  They make 134-200% of the Federal Poverty Level or about $40,000 for a family of four.  While some insist that MinnesotaCare recipients would be compensated by the state for enrolling in a MNsure plan, it’s not that simple.  A comparable MNsure plan would cost more and have as high as a $6,000 deductible.

What will surely happen is families won’t be able to pay for better care, will delay needed care, or go broke when they do have to see a healthcare provider.  As a result, nurses will continue to see patients who are sicker, who should’ve come for care sooner, and who can’t afford things they need to get better, including medications.

MNA nurses are joining Take Action Minnesota and many other groups to oppose the cuts.  It’s anticipated that the HHS Finance bill will be on the House Floor on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.  The coalition of groups opposing these cuts is working to turn out people for the hearing.  Stay tuned for specifics of where and when.  In the meantime, can you send an email to your legislators TODAY, asking them to save MinnesotaCare? 

Workplace Violence Prevention Bill

The workplace violence prevention bill championed by Minnesota nurses has had another victory in the Minnesota Senate.  The bill, which would require all Minnesota hospitals to have a workplace violence prevention plan and provide training to workers on an annual basis, was included in the HHS Finance Omnibus bill last Friday night.  Despite a push from nurses and legislators to include a provision requiring hospitals to report data on violent incidents to the Department of Health and make it accessible to the public, hospitals pushed back, saying that they did not want the public to have access to data on the number of violent incidents that occur at their facilities.  Instead, the data will only be accessible to collective bargaining representatives and law enforcement.  Unfortunately for nurses, this means that the Department of Health will not be able to play a role in monitoring and analyzing incidents of workplace violence or working with hospitals to improve gaps they may have in their violence prevention plans.

The HHS bill moved on to the full Finance Committee on Wednesday night, where it also passed and will be heard on the Senate floor today. While the bill has found success in the Senate, the House did not even hold a hearing on the bill or include it in their omnibus bill.  Because of that, pressure is still needed to ask House members to agree to include the language in the final HHS Omnibus bill that will come out of conference committee.

CEMT

The bill to establish a Community Emergency Medical Technician was also included in the Senate Health and Human Services Omnibus bill.  MNA nurses and other stakeholders still have concerns that the bill could allow CEMTs to practice nursing in a non-emergent setting.   Because there is a provision in the bill that requires a workgroup to make recommendations to the Legislature on what services will be eligible for reimbursement, MNA will continue to advocate within the workgroup that these services not infringe on the nursing scope of practice.

The House has also included the CEMT bill in its HHS omnibus finance bill.  Slight differences in the language means that MNA will also continue to advocate for the Senate position, which removes the ability for CEMTs to do Care Coordination and diagnosis-specific patient education.

It is expected that the bill will pass in some form in the final HHS Omnibus budget bill and the workgroup will begin to meet this summer.

Wednesdays at the Capitol

Every Wednesday, we bring small groups of nurses to the Capitol to meet with legislators about our priority bills. Our next visit is April 29 for Children’s St. Paul and Minneapolis. All MNA members are welcome.  Your bargaining unit can claim your own Day on the Hill too.

We’ll meet at the MNA office in the morning for a briefing and quick training on how to talk to legislators.  We will carpool to the Capitol to talk to elected officials about the need for Safe Patient Standard and Workplace Violence Prevention legislation. We’ll return to the office around 1 p.m. and have lunch. Please contact Geri Katz geri.katz@mnnurses.org or Eileen Gavin eileen.gavin@mnnurses.org for more information or to sign up.

Video

Video: MNA Nurses Deliver Valentines to MN Dept of Health

25 Feb 4

100 nurses delivered more than 2,000 Concern for Safe Staffing Forms to Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger. They lined up to tell their stories of unsafe staffing situations and the effects it has on patients.

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Video: 2015 MNA Nurses Day on the Hill

18 Feb rep1

150 MNA member nurses came to the Capitol in St. Paul to tell lawmakers they want a Safe Patient Standard and that nurses and patients are not safe in the workplace.

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Video: MNA Nurses Support Effort to End Workplace Violence

12 Feb Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.08.20 AM

Nurses from St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood describe horrific night when a patient suddenly attacked them. MNA nurses are fighting for workplace safety for all healthcare workers in all facilities.

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Video: MNA Nurses Informational Picket at Cambridge Medical Center

25 Nov cambridge picket 2

Nurses braved the cold to inform the public they are fighting for a fair contract that protects patients and nurses alike.

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Video: Help Nurses Elect Candidates Who Help Nurses

16 Sep IMG_0298

 

 

Join other dedicated members of the Minnesota Nurses Association who are supporting MNA endorsed candidates.  Go to http://www.mnnurses.org/policy-and-advocacy/election-2014-volunteer-opportunities
OR call Eileen Gavin at 651-414-2871.

 

Primary Election August 12-MNA Supports Rebecca Otto for Auditor

6 Aug

Minnesota’s primary election is Tuesday, August 12. You have a chance to return one of the most accomplished state auditors in the country to her post.

Rebecca Otto

MNA endorses Rebecca Otto for State Auditor

MNA has endorsed Rebecca Otto for State Auditor. Otto has carefully served as a watchdog for local governments, including her role in reviewing almost 700 public pension plans, and promoting legal compliance and accountability.

Rebecca Otto (DFL) is one of the most highly-respected state auditors in the United States. In 2014 she was named one of the Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing by the American Center for Government Auditing (ACGA). She has also received the National Auditors Association Excellence in Accountability Award for Best Practices Review: Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government. In 2011 she received the League of Minnesota Cities President’s Award.

Rebecca Otto has done an outstanding job for the citizens of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Nurses Association is proud to support her.

Find your polling place.

Not registered? You can register at the polls!

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Sign up for the Minnesota State Fair!

5 Aug fair5

Join MNA nurses by speaking up for your profession and a minimum standard of care at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair.  Go to www.mnnurses.org to sign up.  Volunteer shifts are filling up fast!

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Video: Fairview Lakes Nurses Speak Out about Fairness

9 Jul FairviewLakesstill

 

Fairview Lakes nurses are standing up for a fair contract that ends inequities in pay between nurses in clinics and the hospital.

Monster Week for Nurse Contracts Across Minnesota

7 Jun

Nurses flex collective muscle with three ratifications, two tentative agreements within five days

Bemidji nurses

Solidarity during Bemidji nurses’ March “sick in” demonstration helped secure contract language to address dreadful sick time policies Sanford attempted to impose.

Celebratory emails were lighting up MNA inboxes for five straight days as announcement after announcement arrived of contract victories all over the state.
146 nurses at Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Austin, MN started the buzz with a contract ratification on Wed., May 28. 114 Mayo colleagues 40 miles away approved their agreement just one day later. On Monday, it was 287 nurses at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center in northwest Minnesota who ratified their contract.
The run continued on Tuesday, with two notices of tentative agreements. Negotiators for 1202 nurses at Hennepin County Medical Center and 128 nurses at Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic in Grand Rapids, MN reached deals they could recommend to their bargaining units.
“What an awesome week,” remarked MNA Interim Executive Director Julia Stewart. “These are strong contracts and agreements, secured by strong, determined nurses who want the best for their patients.”
All of the ratifications include improvements to wages and benefits, while rejecting management proposals that would diminish nurses’ ability to provide the quality care their patients deserve.
In Austin, nurses achieved a new level of authority in which they will have a say in scheduling and staffing. MNA Co-Chair Shelby Bell knows the nurses will seize the opportunity to reduce the existing chaos on the units. Under current terms, nurses do not have control over what hours or what shift they work. In any one week, a nurse may work a day, evening and night shift. “Sometimes you don’t know if you are coming or going,” said Bell. “What does that do to patient safety?”
Austin and Albert Lea nurses also made significant gains in parity to the insurance and retirement packages of their Mayo colleagues, including the top-scale nurses in Rochester, where Mayo hopes to establish a self-described “destination medical center.” “I’m hopeful this new contract will address the patient safety concerns we’ve had and honor the limits to what nurses can do,” said Chair Kathy Lehman. “Nurses want the community to know we have their best interests at heart and want to exceed their expectations. This contract helps us do that.”
Sanford Bemidji corporate management proposed policies that drove nurses to a “sick in” on a cold day in March. Nurses successfully fought back in contract negotiations due in large part to the solidarity members demonstrated. The group also won a 25-year step increase as well as 6% wage increases over the life of the contract.
Details for the tentative agreements will be made public after nurses vote at HCMC on June 84-strike-logo10 and at Grand Itasca on June 12.
Stewart also noted MNA’s “Spring Surge” of collective activity was a fitting tribute the courage of nurse colleagues who took historic action 30 years ago on June 1, beginning the nation’s largest nursing strike at the time. The strike lasted 37 days and resulted in an important victory for seniority rights. It also spurred new, fiery energy among bargaining unit members around the power of collective action and their contract. “Nurses today know they stand on the foundation formed by colleagues who took action for their principles,” said Stewart. “These settlements continue to honor those principles – and those remarkable nurses.

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