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Nurse Staffing Battle Rages On in Massachusetts

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, April 1, 2014

In a blog post, the Massachusetts Hospital Association says that mandated nurse-patient ratios are "still a bad idea." The post also points to an editorial in the Boston Herald that sheds doubt on whether the public is knowledgeable enough to vote on such an issue, and also suggests that the government shouldn't be allowed to mandate patient limits at all.

Hospitals argue that such limits would be expensive and wouldn't allow them the flexibility to adjust staffing according to patient needs. That "is an out and out unmitigated lie," Schildmeier says. "They never adjust staffing for patients' needs." Plus, he says, flexibility is built into the proposed law.

Schildmeier also points out that because of "Romneycare," Massachusetts is a "test case" because its state healthcare system has already experienced the influx of newly insured patients that the nation is facing as a whole because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"We have an incubator; we have a test case," Schildmeier says of Massachusetts. Another study presented at the hearing shows, he says, that "nurse staffing remained flat in Massachusetts, despite a significant increase in hospital admissions."

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