New Massachusetts Health Care Reform Legislation Has Some Surprises for Hospital Employers

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On August 6, 2012, Governor Patrick signed into law “An Act improving the quality of

health care and reducing costs through increased transparency, efficiency and innovation” as Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012. The stated aim of this legislation is to help moderate increases in consumer and business insurance premiums, as health care costs have increased by 6-7% annually in Massachusetts, while the state economy has only grown by 3.7%.

However, the new law contains some surprises for hospital employers, such as banning so-called “mandatory overtime” for nurses except in emergencies, restrictions on nurses’ shift durations, restrictions on physician contracts, and restrictions on government reimbursement for hospital employees or consultants whose primary responsibility is to persuade hospital employees to support or oppose unionization. This law becomes effective 90 days after its passage.

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