FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 18, 2012, 1:30 PM EST
Contact: Jeff Hall, 617-281-8384, firstname.lastname@example.org
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
BOSTON, MA – As the Massachusetts legislature convenes a conference committee to hammer out details of a new healthcare cost control law, the state’s largest union of healthcare workers is taking their advocacy on the highly anticipated legislation to the next level.
“1199SEIU caregivers support the overall goals of payment reform and applaud Governor Patrick and the legislature for taking on this important task. Healthcare workers are going all in at this phase of the debate to ensure the final bill is crafted in a way that best serves our patients and promotes stability in the state’s largest employment industry – healthcare,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner.
Members of 1199SEIU are set to launch a major advertising and lobbying blitz in an effort to ensure the new legislation effectively controls costs – but not in ways that will disproportionately harm patient access, healthcare workers or community and safety net hospitals. Two key priorities for the union are improved Medicaid funding and an investment in training to promote job stability for healthcare industry employees. Caregivers also have been adamant that the final bill must take pharmaceutical, medical device, and insurance related expenses into account when determining new cost control goals for area hospitals.
A new television ad from the union (viewable at www.VoicesOfQualityCare.org) set to debut Tuesday on WBZ-TV Channel 4, WCVB Channel 5, WHDH Channel 7, and WFXT Channel 25 along with various cable channels delivers the following message:
“We are the caregivers of 1199SEIU – committed to our patients and communities – and proud to join the Governor and legislature in making healthcare affordable for our patients. But let’s make sure these reforms get it right. Let’s preserve high quality care and jobs within our state’s largest industry – healthcare. Let’s make sure everyone has access to quality, affordable care in their community with a strong safety net for our most vulnerable residents. Join us. Make sure healthcare cost control is done right.”
“We see firsthand how pharmaceutical, med device, and insurance costs impact our hospitals,” said 1199SEIU member Gale Martell, a medical lab technologist at Quincy Medical Center, “It would not be fair to patients or workers if this bill put the entire burden solely on healthcare providers – particularly the community and safety net hospitals who are already struggling.”
Meanwhile, the union has set Tuesday, June 26, 2012 as a day of action at the Massachusetts State House and plans to rally healthcare workers from across the state on Beacon Hill as part of its push to impact the payment reform bill. Some hospital management teams have said they will join union members at the rally in an effort to bolster support amongst legislators for the interests of community and safety net hospitals. Steward CEO Ralph de la Torre is scheduled to be amongst the speakers at the 3:00 p.m. rally on June 26.
The union had previously issued statements supportive of the latest House version of the bill, but said there was still room for improvement in the legislation, and vowed to be active during the conference committee process.
Union members say the new law should immediately increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for community and safety net hospitals. Caregivers say that doing so would help stem ‘cost-shifting’ to privately insurance consumers – a pattern resulting from government under-payments to hospitals.
The unionized caregivers are also advocating for the bill to require an investment in healthcare training to assist workers whose jobs may be impacted by the new reforms. While caregivers say the exact number of jobs that will be affected by the bill is unclear, it is clear that many care delivery models will change. Union members are calling for the final bill to include a “Healthcare Workforce Transformation Fund” to help incumbent healthcare workers train for the jobs of the future within the industry.