MNA Legislative Agenda for 2015-2016

A new legislative session began on January, 2015. Below is a list of bills filed by the MNA, along with their key sponsors. Please note, each bill is accompanied by a Senate and House docket number. These are not the bill numbers. When bill numbers are available, we will update this page.

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An Act Relative to Patient Safety
Lead Sponsors: Senator Marc Pacheco/Representative Denise Garlick
The single most important factor impacting the safety of patients in our state’s hospitals is the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time. In too many of our hospitals, nurses are being assigned too many patients, increasing the risk of serious complications, medical errors and readmissions. This bill will dramatically improve patient safety by setting a safe limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, while providing hospitals with the flexibility to adjust staffing based on the patients’ needs. 

The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act
Lead Sponsors: Senator Michael Moore/Representative Josh Cutler
When health care corporations, which receive a substantial amount of their funding from taxpayer dollars, are closing hospitals, pediatric units, detox units and psychiatric units, the public has the right to know if tax dollars are being spent on patient safety or hospital CEOs. This bill would require hospitals to be transparent about their financial holdings and other activities, assess any hospital receiving taxpayer dollars that has an annual operating margin above a specific, predetermined cap and assess any hospital receiving taxpayer dollars that provides a compensation package for its CEO that is greater than 100 times that of hospital’s lowest paid employee. These assessments would be deposited in a newly created Medicaid Reimbursement Enhancement Fund to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to eligible hospitals to limit excessive CEO salaries and to limit and claw back excess profits to ensure that taxpayer dollars are dedicated exclusively to safe patient care and necessary services for all communities in the Commonwealth.

An Act Relative to the Closing of Hospital Essential Services
Lead Sponsor: Senator Jennifer Flanagan
In the wake of last year’s illegal and premature closings of North Adams Region Hospital and Quincy Medical Center, along with the loss of other essential services throughout the state, this bill would extend the official notice period to the Department of Public Health (DPH) in advance of a closure or discontinuation of health services and require any hospital proposing closure or discontinuation of health services to provide evidence of having notified and provided the opportunity for comment from affected municipalities before the notification period begins. The bill would also instruct the Attorney General to seek an injunction against to maintain the essential services for the duration of the notice period and would prohibit the hospital from eligibility for an application for licensure or expansion for a period of three years from the date the service is discontinued, or until the essential health service is restored, or until such time as DPH is satisfied with a modified plan.

An Act Relative to Creating a Pilot Program to Transfer High Acuity Behavioral Health and Dual Diagnosis Patients Away from Crowded Emergency Departments
Lead Sponsors: Senator Marc Pacheco/Representative Patricia Haddad
A recent study found that more than 40,000 patients suffering from acute mental illness are boarding for days or even weeks in our hospitals emergency departments each year, leaving these patients languishing without care and impacting staff’s ability to provide care to other patients requiring emergency medical care.   This bill would create a pilot program at Taunton State Hospital to transfer medically stable, high acuity behavioral health and dual diagnosis patients away from overcrowded emergency departments until such time that an appropriate placement is found to meet the patient’s needs.

An Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence
Lead Sponsors: Senator James Timilty/Representative Michael Brady
Nurses are assaulted on the job more than police officers and prison guards, with more than 70% of hospital emergency department nurses reporting being assaulted during their career. This bill would require health care employers to perform an annual safety risk assessment and, based on those findings, develop and implement programs to minimize the danger of workplace violence to employees and patients.

An Act Providing for Safe Patient Handling
Lead Sponsors: Senator Harriette Chandler/Representative Claire Cronin
Nurses and other health care workers suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than any other profession, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. This bill would require health care facilities to adopt and implement a safe patient handling program to identify, assess, and develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients and health care workers associated with the lifting, transferring, repositioning, or movement of a patient or equipment.

An Act Relative to Creating Difficult to Manage Units within the Department of Mental Health
Lead Sponsor: Representative Patricia Haddad
This bill would create a “Difficult to Manage” unit for women and reinstate the “Difficult to Manage” Unit for men, both within the Department of Mental Health. These units would be highly structured environments with specially trained staff, in order to protect all patients and staff. 

An Act Ensuring Safe Medication Administration
Lead Sponsors: Senator Marc Pacheco/Representative Daniel Donahue
In an effort to cut costs, the state of Massachusetts, and other private sector health care providers have implemented programs that allow unlicensed, inadequately trained staff to administrator a variety of medications that should only be administered by registered nurses. This bill would prohibit the dangerous practice of unlicensed personnel distributing medication. 

An Act Relative to Liability Protection for Disaster Volunteer
Lead Sponsors: Senator Michael Rush/Representative Sean Garballey
Nurses are often on the frontlines in the event of a disaster or state of emergency. This bill would protect nurses from licensure board discipline, civil and/or criminal liability, and prosecution for injury or harm caused to a patient cared for while serving as a volunteer. It would also address instances in which a nurse personally suffers an injury in the course of providing volunteer service in a disaster or emergency occurring in the Commonwealth and would consider a volunteer nurse who sustains injury or disability or who is killed while serving as a volunteer an employee of the Commonwealth with access to certain benefits associated with that designation.

An Act Relative to Credible Service for School Nurses
Lead Sponsor: Representative Claire Cronin
Over the course of a career, a school nurse may work in another setting in his or her capacity as a nurse.   This bill would permit school nurses to buy back up to three years of time spent working in the private sector as a nurse. The nurse must pay into the pension system what s/he would have paid for those three years, or fraction thereof, plus interest. Any time thus purchased would be counted toward the nurse’s number of years of service when calculating their pension.