From Steve Walsh, President & CEO, 
Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), 
on the HPC analysis of Question 1 costs

October 3, 2018

“MHA and its member hospitals and health systems value the efforts of the Health Policy Commission (HPC) to independently identify and analyze the true costs to Massachusetts from Question 1’s excessively rigid, one-size-fits all mandated nurse staffing ratios. The HPC’s findings conclusively confirm the outrageous costs that would be imposed by Question 1 without any benefit to patient safety.

The HPC’s estimate of up to $949 million in annual increased costs is largely consistent with the costs identified by the independent research of Mass Insight/BW Research Partnership. The HPC itself also says its cost impact estimates are conservative. Left out of the HPC estimate are some additional key areas that would be impacted by Question 1, including emergency department costs.

The HPC report also confirms the wealth of evidence that clearly shows mandated staffing ratios in California – the only state in the nation that has staffing ratios – did not improve patient care there. It also finds that  Massachusetts already has better nurse staffing than California, and performs better on multiple quality measures.

The HPC’s findings reaffirm multiple warnings about the true costs Question 1 would force on patients, their families, insurers and healthcare providers. In particular, it asserts the increased costs for high public-payer hospitals – serving some of the Commonwealth’s most challenged communities - would be most affected, with the possibility of devastating effects to patient access to care. With regard to emergency departments, the HPC also finds the potential for “significant impacts” on access to emergency care, wait times, patient flow, emergency room boarding, and ambulance diversion. Though the supporters of Question 1 have dismissed these concerns as “scare tactics,” the HPC recognizes that these are very real threats to patients in our communities.

Every hospital in Massachusetts opposes Question 1. That’s why we are part of the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety. This coalition includes more than 100 healthcare organizations and is striving to put daylight on the troubling consequences this ballot question poses to patients and communities throughout the state. Today’s report by the HPC further reinforces the harm Question 1 poses and provides additional evidence as to why voters should say “No” to Question 1 on November 6.”