Mayo Clinic exempt from new legislation, some say SE MN nurses were left behind

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(ABC 6 News) – Nurses across Minnesota are calling it devastating, hospital CEOs are sounding the alarm; This surrounds a new decision from lawmakers to exempt Mayo Clinic from the hotly-debated legislation “Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act.”

This comes after Mayo Clinic threatened to pull around $4 billion dollars out of Minnesota, something Gov. Tim Walz says would be a huge loss.

“Mayo is not in the business of bluffing or playing at the politics if you will, but they have to recognize that everything involves a give and take with people. At this point in time we want those investments in Minnesota. They need to be in Minnesota,” Gov. Walz said.

There are four days left in the legislative session.

While there’s still time to hammer out the bill’s details, supporters, like the Minnesota Nursing Association, says they have lost trust in the legislature.

Nurses say it’s a wake-up call.

“It doesn’t matter how much you pound the pavement in these halls at the capitol, no matter how much you fight for your fight, it doesn’t matter because at the end, the corporate world can come sweeping in and destroy all your work,” said MNA President Mary Turner.

Turner says those with the MNA say Gov. Walz was defending the legislation and to see him pull back with just days left in the session was a huge disappointment.

Lawmakers say they are focusing on getting the bill across the finish line.

“We are following directive and in order to get the bill to pass, Mayo Clinic has been carved out,” explained Sen. Liz Boldon (D – Rochester).

The bill’s biggest supporters say it feels like they had to leave nurses in southeastern Minnesota behind.

“They were to afraid to come forward but they were thanking us for fighting for them. These are Rochester nurses that aren’t union nurses,” Turner said.

But those a part of the Minnesota Hospital Association say Mayo Clinic had the right idea.

“This bill is bad for non-profit healthcare in Minnesota. If this bill passes as written patients will lose access to healthcare,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, the CEO and president of the MHA.

Dr. Koranne says his data analysis shows 70,000 Minnesotans would lose access to hospitals, because the bill’s rigid staffing rations would force understaffed hospitals to close.

The MHA wants it changed to allow to other non-profit hospitals to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to staffing.

“If there’s an alternate compliance pathway that is made available to one institution, that must be available to all,” Dr. Koranne said.

While Mayo Clinic is no longer at the table, officials agree.

“Mayo continues to advocate for a policy-based, data-driven approach that supports an alternative path to compliance for all hospitals and health systems, including Mayo Clinic Rochester and Mayo Clinic Health System locations, that use an acuity tool incorporating nurse input and patient needs. We believe any hospital that meets this high standard should be able to pursue this pathway. We encourage lawmakers to adopt this approach that reflects policies focused on patients and staff.”

– Amy Williams, MD, Executive Dean of Practice and Chair, Mayo Clinic Clinical Practice Committee, Mayo Clinic

Some lawmakers are also siding with Mayo Clinic.

“My hope is that they will keep the best interest of patients foremost in their minds and allow alternative pathways, which could be something like what Mayo has it could be other hospitals also using a patient-driven acuity model,” Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) added.

Whatever decision lawmakers come to, nurses throughout the 16 Mayo Clinic facilities are no longer in the conversation.

“I will not rest until every nurse in Minnesota is taken care of. If not this way, we will find another way,” Turner said.

Lawmakers are having further discussions on the bill but its expected to be finalized Friday night.

It will be voted on in the coming days.