The Green-Rainbow Party endorses a vote of YES on Question 1 and also calls for even greater protections for health care workers and patients than the ballot question provides.
If Question 1 passes, the Patient Safety Act will be enacted, which will enhance nurses’ rights and improve health care for patients in Massachusetts.
Currently, there is little regulation regarding the number of patients that can be assigned to a single nurse at Massachusetts health care facilities. High nurse workloads have been tied to the deteriorating conditions in Massachusetts hospitals, leading to complications, readmissions, clinical errors, longer hospital stays, and deaths. The Patient Safety Act will significantly improve patient safety in Massachusetts hospitals by setting a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, while providing flexibility to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on specific patient needs.
Question 1 is supported by a broad coalition of nurses, patients, and family members, health and safety organizations, community groups, and unions, many of whom see the issue addressed in Question 1 as part of a larger grassroots movement regarding health care rights. Not surprisingly, Question 1 is opposed by groups of nurse management and corporate hospital associations who are sadly more interested in profit than the right of a patient to have safe and effective health care. These NO on 1 organizations are spreading deceptive advertising with scare tactics that hide the corporate health care industry’s fears that if Question 1 passes, some of their excess profits will be properly used to improve patient care.
The Green-Rainbow Party also bases its position on research which shows the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients for which a nurse should be responsible. Thirty-six percent of RNs report patient deaths that are directly attributable to having too many patients to care for at one time (up from 23% only five years ago, an alarming rise) and 90% of RNs report that they do not have the time to properly comfort and care for patients and families due to unsafe patient assignments – up from 82% four years ago.
When California established maximum limits on the number of patients that could be assigned to a nurse at one time, the results were universally positive for nurses and patients, coupled with a drop in health care spending and lower health care premiums. For every patient added to a nurse’s workload, the likelihood of a patient surviving cardiac arrest decreases by 5% per patient. For children recovering from basic surgeries, each additional patient assigned to a nurse increases the risk of readmission by a shocking 48%. There is a 20% higher risk that a patient will die within 30 days of having general surgery at hospitals that do not have reasonable patient limits.
As a result, the GRP supports a Vote of YES on Question 1 and also declares that further legislation is needed to better protect health care workers and patients. Our national party, the Green Party of the United States, is the only national party in the US that supports the enactment of single-payer universal health care and preventive care for all. We also support the payment of a living wage to all workers that work in the healthcare field, including but not limited to: health aides (both in facilities and home health care workers), caretakers, lab workers, interns, and maintenance workers. We call for safer working environments in health care facilities, the rights of all health care employees to organize and form unions and to collectively bargain, a greater understanding of holistic and palliative care, and an enlarged patients’ bill of rights that respects patients’ rights to make their own decisions about their health care regardless of their physical illness, mental illness, or disability.
To enact these measures the GRP as well as the national Green Party calls for transformative changes in our laws and education to remove corporate power from our health care system and put it into the hands of the people. End treating health care and medicine as commodities. Make health care a human right. This is the actualization of what we mean when we say people (and planet, and peace) over profit. Otherwise, decisions about your medicine, your treatment and your surgery will continue to be made not necessarily for your benefit, but for profit by big pharma and medical industry conglomerates.
On Election Day, please vote YES on Question 1, but please do not stop there. Support bold reforms to roll back corporate power over health care and medicine, and make health care truly a human right.