HPC to release findings from new analysis on potential impact of nurse staffing ratios to the health care system. Findings to Be Presented at Public Meeting on October 3, 2018, and Will Inform Panel Discussion at Cost Trends Hearing, October 16-17, 2018

BOSTON — Monday, September 24, 2018 The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) announced today that it will present new findings from an analysis on the potential cost impact of mandated nurse staffing ratios on hospitals, non-hospital settings that employ registered nurses (RN), and the Commonwealth as a whole. The new analysis will be presented publicly for the first time at the upcoming meeting of the HPC’s Market Oversight and Transparency (MOAT) Committee on October 3, 2018. The HPC examined California’s experience with a mandated nurse staffing ratio law, the Commonwealth’s current RN workforce and staffing at Massachusetts hospitals, and estimated costs associated with mandated ratios.

“The mandating of nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in Massachusetts could have a significant impact on health care costs, quality, and access in the state. For this reason the Health Policy Commission (HPC) has developed its own assessment of the potential cost and quality implications if such a measure were to become state law,” said Stuart H. Altman, HPC Chair.“This type of analysis is consistent with the HPC’s role as an independent watchdog of health care costs, quality, and access in the state. The results of this analysis will be discussed at the HPC’s upcoming hearing on health care cost trends on October 16 and 17.”

The HPC is dedicating a portion of the upcoming Annual Health Care Cost Trends Hearing to the topic. The Cost Trends Hearing is a two-day public event featuring live testimony from top health care providers, industry leaders, and government officials. A presentation of the HPC’s findings developed by two leading academic experts on nursing workforce issues is planned for the event, followed by a panel discussion featuring participants with varied perspectives and expertise on the issue. The full agenda for the hearing is below, and can be found on the HPC’s website, here. Witnesses will be announced in October, and all times are subject to confirmation.

“The purpose of the annual cost trends hearing is to engage in an informed discussion of the top policy issues in health care,” added David M. Seltz, HPC Executive Director. “We hope that this fair, objective analysis and subsequent panel discussion will positively contribute to the policy dialogue on this important issue.”

The HPC received extensive feedback from Massachusetts health care providers and health plans, including through pre-filed testimony in advance of the cost trends hearing, on the impacts of mandatory staffing ratios on health care spending. A majority of organizations identified the issue as a top factor regarding the Commonwealth’s ability to meet the 3.1% health care cost growth benchmark.

HPC staff and expert consultants will present the analysis at the MOAT meeting on October 3, 2018. The analysis will also be a featured research presentation at the 6th Annual Health Care Cost Trends Hearings, to be held on October 16 and 17, 2018, at Suffolk University Law School (120 Tremont Street, Boston).

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