With only two weeks left until the Nov. 6 midterm election, Massachusetts voters are split evenly on establishing statewide mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, according to a new poll by WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.
Of the 506 Massachusetts residents surveyed, 44 percent were in favor of mandated nurse staffing, and 44 percent were opposed. The remaining 12 percent said they were undecided.
Advocates for the mandate, also known as Question 1, have said establishing mandated nurse staffing ratios will lead to better patient outcomes and improve quality of care. Opponents have said the opposite and also claim mandated ratios will put an expensive burden on state hospitals. Both sides claim nurses fully support them.
Both groups have spent a combined total of more than $14 million on competing TV advertisements and campaign initiatives. Because both groups have run similar ad campaigns, voters have had a difficult time figuring out how nurses actually feel about the issue, according to the WBUR report.
The pro-mandate group, the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care, is sponsored by the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Most of the group’s supporters are nursing unions, labor unions, international labor unions and local community groups, according to their website. The group also earned key endorsements from several local, state and federal representatives, most notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
“Nurses work hard to take care of all of us when it matters the most, and we should do the same for them by establishing standards to ensure they have the help they need to do their job safely,” Senator Warren said in a press release. “I stand with our nurses and support a yes vote on Question 1 in November.”
The opposing group, known as the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, is supported mostly by hospitals, hospitals associations and local chambers of commerce, according to their website. The organization has also earned a handful of endorsements from local mayors, including Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy.
An independent study conducted by the state’s Health Policy Commission found that implementing the mandate would cost an estimated $676-949 million per year and potentially save $34-47 million. The study also found that hospitals would need to hire 2,286 to 3,101 additional full-time equivalent nurses to meet the mandate.
You can read the full analysis of the study below:
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