The powerful California Nurses Association is gearing up for a battle when the union begins bargaining with health care provider Kaiser Permanente on Thursday over a new contract for nurses at its hospitals in the northern part of the state.
The last negotiations went smoothly, says an NPR report,
because Kaiser knew there was a nursing shortage and the union didn't want to appear too greedy in a down market economy.
But the advent of Obamacare has changed that perspective this time around because the new law is bringing in an influx of new patients, the report says.
According to Kaiser's Barbara Crawford, under Obamacare Medicare reimbursements are getting smaller, which means smaller amounts of money coming into the hospitals. "As consumers have opted to join us our expectation and promise to them is that we keep their costs down," she said, according to the report.
She adds that new technology also means that patients spend less time in hospitals and need less nursing care.
But the nurses see the situation differently.
NPR quotes Joanne Spetz, an economics professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing as saying that if there are more patients and more growth, the union believes that means more profits for Kaiser.
"If there's going to be increased net revenue, we should get a cut of that," she says most union members believe.
The California Nurses Association has now spawned National Nurses United and may soon take the battle to hospitals around the country.
According to a November NPR report,
instead of paying for each procedure a patient has as part of a particular surgery, Medicare will pay one fee that includes everything, including follow-up visits, significantly changing the way hospitals had previously been paid.
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