Nurse-Patient Ratio Laws DESTROY Hospitals
The NYT spreads misinformation about Nurse-Patient Ratio Laws to make massive profit
The New York Times is a newspaper with the most Pulitzer Prizes and the third-highest circulation in the United States. Its revenue is roughly $1.8 billion.
They recently ran an opinion piece called: Hospital Greed Is Destroying Our Nurses, which is 90% emotional anecdotes.
Let’s pull out their poorly supported claims to set the record straight…
America is facing a national nursing shortage.
The biggest force that’s driving nurses away: greedy hospitals.
To maximize profits, American hospitals have been intentionally understaffing nurses for decades, long before the pandemic. What the hospital industry doesn’t want you to know is that there’s never been more licensed nurses in America. Hospitals just aren’t hiring them.
To understand how the situation became so desperate, you have to remember that hospitals are just like any other business. Staffing takes up about half the budget. So a smaller workforce means bigger profits.
The NYT blames “greedy hospitals” for a nursing shortage, but they aren’t any more or less greedy than the US government or the NYT in doing what’s in their perceived self-interest, but only when the NYT is critiquing the Right and/or businesses do they pass such moral judgment.
Leftists synonymize “big profits” to “corporate greed” while neglecting the fact that Leftist millionaires like Bernie Sanders give virtually nothing to charity (2.26% over the last decade) while conservative businesspeople tend to give a lot more both in real terms and as a percentage of their income (a study by Google found that average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals).
But here’s the ultimate question: If hospitals are making such large profits then why doesn’t the NYT or any “greedy” businessperson invest in building more hospitals?!
Maybe the government-created barriers to entry are extremely high? Maybe hospitals don’t have as big of a profit as the NYT claims?
People don’t realize that in Illinois more than 40% of hospitals across the state, in every area of the state, are either losing money or barely surviving. They’re financially fragile conditions. Imposing ratios would add a cost to the health care system of $2 billion a year. Many of our hospitals cannot absorb those costs. And a lot of those costs would be passed on to patients and families in the form of higher health care costs. — Danny Chun, spokesman for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association
Pre-pandemic Forbes published Why Major Hospitals Are Losing Money By The Millions. From 2013 to 2017, about 1 in 5 of all the nation’s hospitals were acquired or merged! And now with the pandemic, the New York Times even acknowledges, ”Some of the hardest-hit hospitals may close, leaving patients with fewer options for care.”
Nevertheless, the NYT wants to force hospitals to employ more nurses via a nurse-to-patient ratio…
The situation is dire.
The solution is simple. Pass common-sense laws that limit the number of patients for each nurse. Pennsylvania and Illinois both have bills pending that would do just that. But a similar law in Massachusetts failed to pass in 2018, thanks, in part, to a $25 million campaign by the hospital lobby.
Just look at California, where a bill like this did pass. The result: more nurses hired, more nurses staying in their jobs and better patient outcomes. This is a national emergency but one created by the hospital industry, not the pandemic. We need to save lives, not profits.
What could possibly go wrong?!
For one, despite what the influence-industrial complex tells us… big businesses lobby for MORE regulations. This is because regulations knock out struggling businesses (they have a harder time absorbing the cost), which means with less competition big businesses can pay less and charge more. And you thought Amazon and Walmart were just lobbying for a higher minimum wage out of the goodness of their heart!
By legislating a nurse-to-patient ratio more hospitals will flatline and perhaps more alarmingly never be built.
This not only means that patients would have fewer healthcare options but nurses would have fewer employment options!
Do you think the remaining hospitals will treat nurses better?
Maybe at first if hospitals have to quickly double/triple their RN staff, but not in the long run as hospitals could increase their workload and cut their pay because if a nurse doesn’t like it she can go elsewhere…
Oh, wait there is no elsewhere! HA! HA! HA! Go complain to your local politician or a NYT reporter! — Bob, “greedy” hospital administrator in a smoke-filled room
Even the American Nurses Association is against legislating nurse-patient ratios because they saw what happened in California (the only state that has legislated ratios in all hospital departments): a decrease in non-RN hospital staff!
The NYT concluded that California’s nurse-patient ratio law led to “better patient outcomes” when all the leftwing literature I could find conceded that it was at best, “difficult to determine”…
Leaders reported difficulties in absorbing the costs of the ratios, and many had to reduce budgets, reduce services, or employ other cost-saving measures. — California Health Care Foundation, Assessing the Impact of California’s Nurse Staffing Ratios
Taken together, the literature indicates that CA’s regulations did not systematically improve the quality of patient care. — Massachusetts Health Policy Commission
There were no significant impacts of these improved staffing measures on measures of nursing quality and patient safety indicators across hospitals. — Impact of California Mandated Acute Care Hospital Nurse Staffing Ratios
The NYT also failed to mention that at the very moment of publishing their opinion piece California temporarily abolished nurse-patient ratios in at least 250 of California’s roughly 400 hospitals because of the pandemic (I wonder what political calculations factored into who Newsom granted waivers) otherwise according to the California Hospital Association hospitals would’ve had to turn people away to stay within the ratio!
In other words, the only way the NYT can even claim that California’s nurse-patient ratio law led to “better patient outcomes” is because it was abolished when the going got toughest. It’s like saying you’re the best football player, but then you sit out the Super Bowl because you can’t handle the pressure.
But the California Nurses Association (CNA) not only wants a full reinstatement, but they’ve also sponsored legislation to increase “stricter staffing level oversight.”
Regulation begets regulation.
Ultimately, to be a nation of laws we must be a nation of few laws. A law may sound good on paper and in itself, but when combined with all the other laws on the local, state, and federal level you can start to understand why hospitals have to invest more in administrative bureaucracy than in their healthcare workforce.
Limiting the number of patients per nurse may not sound so bad, right?
But what about if the patient is in the operating room vs. ICU vs. pediatrics vs. postpartum? Different ratios for different treatments!
But what if the patient’s case is particularly severe? Require a Patient Classification System where additional RNs are added based on a patient’s acuity!
What if a hospital starts firing non-RN staff to offset the costs? Make it illegal!
What if a hospital starts making nurses do more custodial and administrative work or vice versa? Specify what nurses can or can’t do!
How can the state make sure these rules are universally applied at all times? More regulators with stricter penalties!
What should those penalties be?
Do you really want unelected tenured bureaucrats in charge of such enforcement when their boss (politicians) and their bosses boss (voters) know virtually nothing about healthcare administration?
1000X this regulation and you can start to see why the NYT in all their “compassion” isn’t investing in building more hospitals.
Who in their right mind would open a hospital nowadays when they will face an evergrowing mountain of regulations, litigation, and then despite taking such a large investment risk in a high-need area will only be demonized by the Left?
The NYT mentioned that a nurse-ratio bill didn’t pass in Massachusetts, but they failed to mention that in this dark blue state it lost in a landslide by over 70% of the vote!
The NYT’s blamed the bill’s defeat on a $25 million ad campaign, which just goes to show how little they think of leftwing voters’ critical thinking skills, but the only number I could find was that the “Massachusetts Nurses’ Union raised $5.7 million to pass the measure while the hospital association’s committee raised $10.5 million to defeat it,” so the gap wasn’t as great as the NYT would like you to believe. The fact they omitted the millions spent promoting the bill just goes to show they can’t be trusted to present information honestly.
The Massachusetts bill also differed from the California law in that it tried to remove the latter’s major loophole by, “requiring patient limits be met without reducing staff levels, such as service staff, maintenance staff, or clerical staff.”
But this would be unenforceable!
How can the government stop a business from reducing its staff levels? A hospital could just come up with other excuses for why they’re firing people or they could just not replace non-RN staff who quit.
Would the state then mandate staffing levels like a Soviet-style commune: 10% custodial, 10% secretarial, 10% management, 10% nurse, 10% reeducation, etc?
Over the past century as our healthcare system has only become more socialized (more government insurance & regulations) and therefore most costly the very same people who’ve been failing us cry out for more power over us: Medicare-for-All!
It’s smart politics! Because if we had what would be the largest most complicated single-payer system in the world it would be so ineffective in part because conservatives like myself would try to sabotage it and in part because a Democrat could know nothing about healthcare yet get elected to lead it simply by promising to increase its funding. “Compassion” trumps competence.
Uncle Sam’s here to give you your medication now!
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I think you are thinking critically here… some good points.. we spend 4 trillion a year in healthcare and nurses get 300-400 billion- hospitals get 1.3 trillion and as I have said to many nurses- yes the CEO is an idiot that doesn’t know jack but his salary would not pay for the amount we need to increase nurse salaries to a fair market wage. Shake the big pot and make it rain, because nurses outnumber any other healthcare providers - are the ones that DO the STUFF that make it so people don’t die, it’s stem, we do 5x an engineer per hour. They need to reimburse for nursing care not just procedures in order for y’all to get care. Don’t worry about nurse patient ratio bills- nurses are now being represented by business in business to get fair market wages as travel or contract nurses - then hospitals cancel us, staff quits in droves and then next quarter they have to pay out again- they are going to flatline because they won’t give staff a 10$ permanent raise and continue a quarterly profits business strategy. We are flatlining physically and mentally so having to travel to survive they will flatline themselves. two travel contracts and I have done a full years work in normal people terms. I would even have Bezos put a tracker on us for productivity but a computer couldn’t even do it- it understands that 1 human can’t be in 7 critical places at once.