MNA Legislative Update, April 12, 2013
Standards of Care Update
On Wednesday the revised bill, focusing on transparency for patients and a Minnesota Department of Health study of the correlation between staffing and patient outcomes, passed the House Ways and Means Committee, completing the committee process in the House and moving on to a floor vote.
In the Senate, the bill was passed by the Health and Human Services Finance Committee this morning. There will be one more committee stop in the Senate, which should happen later this month.
Our main objective for the remainder of the 2013 legislative session is to ensure that a comprehensive and accurate study is completed. Ultimately, our goal is safe staffing in every facility, on every unit and during every shift.
In the next few weeks the full House and full Senate will take floor votes on this bill. In the time leading up to the floor votes, it is critical that nurses contact our legislators and stress the importance of transparency about staffing and the need for Minnesota-specific data linking staffing to health outcomes. Contact your state senator and state representative today with the MNA Grassroots Action Center, and ask your coworkers to do the same.
The biggest news this week was that Sanford withdrew from merger discussions with Fairview. Attorney General Lori Swanson held a standing room only hearing on Sunday to shed light on the possibility of an out-of-state company with for-profit arms taking over Fairview. Attorney General Swanson raised questions about the impact of a merger on important state assets like the University of Minnesota hospital and medical school. After the hearing, Sanford announced it was backing away from the discussions, and subsequently Fairview said it would also cease consideration of a University of Minnesota proposal to take over Fairview.
While the Sanford/Fairview merger is off, the trend of hospital consolidation and corporatization continues. Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL- Inver Grove Heights) therefore will still hold a hearing on his bill to prohibit the sale of the University of Minnesota hospital to an out-of-state entity. The public hearing will be on Wednesday, April 17, at 4:00 pm in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building.
However, the Attorney General’s second public hearing about the merger, which was scheduled for April 21, has been cancelled. Thank you to all of the nurses who attended the first hearing and who sent in their comments to the Attorney General.
MNA applauds Attorney General Swanson for her role as a watchdog for accountability and transparency for the taxpayers and patients of Minnesota.
Mayo “Destination Medical Center”
The Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center proposal, seeking over $500 million for a major expansion of the clinic and local infrastructure, was heard in the House Taxes Committee this week. MNA, along with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and UNITE HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union, submitted a letter to legislators raising questions about the project, including seeking more information about what kind of jobs would be created by the expansion, and how the quality of care and Mayo’s obligation to provide charity care would be affected by the project. Due to these questions and other concerns from legislators, Mayo is working on a revised plan. MNA will continue to monitor this issue.
HHS Budget and HMO Accountability
Both the House and Senate Health and Human Services Omnibus bills contain $150 million in cuts. MNA appreciates the House position of funding those cuts in part by capturing excess funds from Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). A recent report by the Segal Company shows that HMOs have been overcharging the state for management of public health care programs since the Pawlenty administration. MNA and many of our allies have been seeking answers and more transparency regarding the HMO “black box” – the approximately $4 billion in taxpayer dollars HMOs receive annually to administer public health care programs.
Job Creation Events
Members of the House will be holding events focused on the House DFL jobs and bonding proposals around the state this weekend. These bills will promote job creation and move Minnesota’s economy forward. The events will be press conference-style and should be short, 30 minutes or so. If there is an event in your region, please attend if you are able.
SATURDAY, APRIL 13th
Time: 10 AM
Legislators: Speaker Thissen and Representatives Hausman and Dorholt
Location: St. Cloud Civic Center, Glen Carlson Hall, ST. CLOUD
Time: 1:30 PM
Legislators: Speaker Thissen and Representatives Hausman, Mary Murphy, Huntley, and Simonson
Location: UMD, Kirby Building, Room 333, DULUTH
Time: 2 PM
Legislators: Representatives Mahoney, John Ward and Radinovich
Location: Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, Conference Room, Main Terminal, BRAINERD
SUNDAY, APRIL 14th
Time: 1 PM
Legislators: Majority Leader Erin Murphy RN and Representatives Hausman, Mahoney, Norton, and
Location: Mayo Civic Center, Legion Suite, ROCHESTER
Time: 3 PM
Legislators: Majority Leader Erin Murphy RN and Representatives Mahoney and Savick
Location: Riverland Community College, East Building, Room C-110 (Door E5), ALBERT LEA