Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

By Mat Keller, RN, JD, MNA Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

What does the Allina strike mean for non-Allina nurses? I’m sure if you’re a nurse in Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin, you’ve asked yourself a similar question. And it’s not unreasonable. What, exactly, does the Allina strike mean for the profession?

Nothing less than our future.

Allina Health is a corporate entity that has managed to build up $1.3 billion in stock market reserves, $160 million in Caribbean bank accounts, and $300 million in cash, according to its most recent federal Form 990 financial disclosures.
… Read more about: Why the Allina strike continues to matter  »

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It’s no secret that Hennepin County Medical Center has been contemplating layoffs—they announced as much at the beginning of December, and received Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approval for such layoffs this past week. Not so clear, however, is why they think layoffs are necessary. As the rate of health insurance coverage reaches historical highs, is our local county hospital really facing difficult financial times?

HCMC CEO Jon Pryor seems to be hinting at as much.  In a December 9 communication to HCMC employees, he stated, “If you’ve been paying attention to the media, you know that HCMC is not the only healthcare organization facing a financial challenge right now.”

But MNA nurses have been paying attention to the media, and this is what they’ve found: hospital profits in this state are running at an all-time high.
… Read more about: HCMC nurses want answers to questions about potential layoffs  »

By Mathew Keller, RN JD
Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist 

In a famous 1863 lawsuit involving landlord rights, Graves v. Berdan, a New York landlord sued a tenant for failing to pay his rent— for leased space in a building that had burned down. Surprisingly enough, the legal precedent at that time required tenants to continue paying rent even after the space being leased ceased to exist.

Such is the power of landlords. They grant their tenants certain rights and uses of property through the provisions of a lease. However, leases also create obligations for tenants – for example, an obligation to pay rent, an obligation to mow the lawn, an obligation to not destroy the premises; or, in the case of the tenant of Unity Hospital, Allina Health, an obligation to “operate a hospital for the benefit of, and open to, all residents of the community upon equal terms” and to “use the leased premises for a public hospital,” according to the terms of its lease with the North Suburban Hospital District Board.
… Read more about: A Hospital for $1?  »

By Mathew Keller, RN JD
Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist 

If a recent demand letter from Piper Jaffray’s attorneys to the Minnesota

Nurses Association is any indication, it’s safe to say that our campaign to agitate, educate, and advocate against the overzealous pursuit of profits in non-profit healthcare, the questionable business dealings between Allina and members of its board, and the relentless march toward the corporatization of healthcare have all been a smashing success. Make no mistake, this is a David versus Goliath fight that’s barely just begun — and one corporate Goliath is already bemoaning the audacity of nurse David to throw stones at it, the venerable Piper Jaffray.
… Read more about: High-Powered Piper Jaffray Attorneys Seek to Quiet the Voice of Nurses: Nurses Refuse to be Silenced  »

By Mathew Keller, RN JD
Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist 

It’s been well reported that Allina Health, a $3.9-billion nonprofit healthcare organization, “invested” $108 million in Health Catalyst, a private for-profit technology company. As part of the deal, Allina is outsourcing its “data warehousing, analytics, performance improvement technology, and personnel to Health Catalyst.” In fact, the money Allina spends on Health Catalyst “represents the cost of what the staff and tools” were costing Allina, according to Allina CEO Penny Wheeler. In other words, Allina took a segment of its business and paid to outsource it to a for-profit company.
… Read more about: With nurses on the outside, Allina CEO focuses her attention on the real issues: Health Catalyst  »

By Mathew Keller RN, JD

Mathew Keller, RN JD Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist
Mathew Keller, RN JD
Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

Limousine service, upgraded television setsnurse/patient “scripts,” gourmet food service, nurse uniform requirements – hospitals all over the U.S. are offering more “customer-centric” patient care in order to increase patient satisfaction scores, which are becoming more and more important for Medicare reimbursements.

These efforts often have unintended consequences.

In the first place, customer-centric interventions rarely (if ever) improve the quality of care patients receive: rather, they merely improve patients’ perceptions of care.
… Read more about: Essentia Health: Listen to your nurses  »

By Mathew Keller, RN JD

Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

In its latest ploy, Allina Health has turned to the argument that the health insurance plan MNA nurses currently have would be subject to the excise tax in the Affordable Care Act, also known as the “Cadillac” tax in four years. MNA negotiators did not hear this argument at the bargaining table for one very good reason — the tax  has absolutely nothing to do with this round of negotiations.

The “Cadillac” tax – which is really an excise tax – was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act as a way to encourage increased cost-sharing in health insurance plans.
… Read more about: Allina’s ‘Cadillac Tax’ Ploy Fails to Pass Muster  »

By Mathew J. Keller, RN JDkellerjan2016

Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

A company leans on its board of directors for counsel, for investment, and for leadership.  The board is a group of advisers with expertise above and/or outside of the company’s executive team.  It’s disappointing to see that so many healthcare corporations don’t include nurses on their boards.

In the case of the 19 members of the Allina Health Board of Directors, a full seven are investment bankers or associated financial professionals. In fact, the list of board includes several CEOs (such as the head of Buffalo Wild Wings), a dean of a business school, a marketing guru, a supply chain VP for General Mills, and a retired attorney.
… Read more about: Composition of Allina Health’s Board of Directors Speaks Volumes  »

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

In order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, it is standard practice across the healthcare industry for healthcare workers who suspect they may have the signs or symptoms of communicable illness to report their symptoms to infection control.

Indeed, Medicare Conditions for Participation for receiving Medicare reimbursement require facilities to put in place “a system for identifying, reporting, investigating and controlling infections and communicable diseases of patients and personnel.”

So far so good.  It makes sense that healthcare workers who may have a communicable disease should work with infection control personnel to prevent the spread of disease and make sure they are symptom free before they return to work.
… Read more about: Blog: TMI Alert – Is Your Protected Health Information Safe in the Workplace?  »

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

kellerjan2016

In a decision that has shocked pediatric surgeons across the state, Florida recently repealed a 38-year-old rule establishing state standards for pediatric cardiac surgery.

The decision comes on the heels of a scathing investigative report by CNN, which found that St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach had an abysmal record in performing pediatric cardiac surgeries — including a death rate three times the national average — and was failing to meet the state’s quality standards, which include proficiency in performing the surgeries as well as a mechanism for outside physicians to conduct an expert panel review of such surgical programs.
… Read more about: Florida dumps surgical standards after failing hospital donates to GOP  »