Hospital Workers Picket Over MEDICAID Cutbacks Noting Impact Will Discourage Retention of Experienced Medical Workforce at UNMH and Other Hospitals & Clinics.
Early this morning CWA 7076, and District 1199 NM hospital employees at UNMH and others began a series of actions regarding the negative impact of Medicaid cutbacks on New Mexico’s healthcare workforce at hospitals and clinics.
“This action is step one in a series of events focusing on the negative implications of Medicaid cuts on patient care and keeping an experienced staff at hospitals all over New Mexico, and in this case at New Mexico’s only Level 1 Trauma Center,” Lorie MacIver, a nurse at UNMH and president of the hospital workers’ Union stated at the informational picket in front of UNMH this morning.
“Our unions representing the employees at UNMH feel officials here need to implement a more aggressive plan to retain the experienced workforce at our hospital which have borne the brunt of economic sacrifice for the past several years,” stated Donald Alire president of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 7076.
MacIver noted, “We are in the middle of negotiations with UNMH and have been told once again that our front line workers must suck it up. We think UNMH can do better than give a pep talk. And we also think the legislature and the governor need to accept responsibility for endangering patients at hospitals all over the state by the cuts they have made to Medicaid reimbursement in the state budget for fiscal year 2017.”
“The governor and the legislature have decided that looking out for wealthy corporations is more important than making sure patients at New Mexico’s hospitals and clinics get the safe and proper care they need when admitted to health care facilities,” Alire added.
On June 1, 2016, District 1199 NM filed a detailed official protest/comment demanding that New Mexico’s Human Services Department withdraw its state plan amendment (SPA) to its Medicaid program. The SPA calls for reductions in reimbursements to hospitals, clinics and medical professionals in order to balance the state’s budget.
When speaking today of the need to have an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to solving the retention and related financial problems which “hospital systems are facing in keeping experienced bedside care practitioners,” MacIver announced that her union has sent a letter to New Mexico’s Congressional delegation asking each of them to “intervene in all appropriate ways asking that CMS reject the HSD’s SPA.”
Here is the text of the letter sent to Senators Udall and Heinrich, and Representatives Lujan, Lujan Grisham and Pearce:
We are writing to ask for your help in addressing a dangerous problem with underfunding of the Medicaid program as outlined in the New Mexico FY 2017 state budget, by which the governor and state legislature instructed the Human Services Department (HSD) to cut reimbursement rates to New Mexico’s hospitals, clinics and similar medical care facilities.
As presidents of District 1199 NM of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, and the Communication Workers of America 7076, we represent thousands of direct care, bed-side care givers and support service providers at New Mexico hospitals and clinics.
We are concerned for our patients, and the ability for our members and all hospital employees throughout the state to deliver safe and good care to those patients.
As you are probably aware, HSD is in the process of submitting a state plan amendment (SPA) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
If allowed by CMS this SPA will have a negative impact on the ability of providers such as doctors, nurses, medical technicians and assistants and support staff to safely and properly care for their patients.
We believe we all agree Medicaid is of vital importance to the citizens of New Mexico. The SPA should be opposed by our entire Congressional Delegation for many reasons. We should be growing New Mexico’s ability to have a vibrant health care system not shrinking it. As Lorie MacIver wrote in a letter to HSD Secretary Brent Earnest in May:
“As a nurse and a representative of healthcare workers in this state, I am extremely concerned that this program not only remain effective but flourishes to meet the needs of our citizens…”
Our organizations representing health direct health care providers and their support staff recently filed protests (via the comment requirement of CMS when any state submits a SPA). We have attached a copy of one of those protests/comment with this letter to you.
The protest/comment states clearly our concerns and formally asks HSD to withdraw its SPA, or in the alternative for CMS to deny its approval of same.
On behalf of the people who care for your constituents, we are respectfully requesting that you intervene in all appropriate ways asking that CMS reject the HSD’s SPA.
We look forward to hearing from you, and stand ready to provide any further information that would be helpful in preventing Medicaid beneficiaries, other hospital patients, families, and our bed-side care givers from being harmed by this misguided approach to balance the state’s budget at the expense of the deliverance of safe and proper health care.
Please feel free to contact either of us should you have any questions. We may be reached at the phone numbers below.
Thank you for your consideration.
MacIver also announced that other actions are being planned to highlight the intense problems created by the Medicaid underfunding and the failure of hospitals to adequately develop retention policies “which encourage our hard working, experienced direct care givers to stay at our hospitals.”
Lorie MacIver BSN, RNC
District 1199 NM
CWA Local 7076