With proposed nurse shortfalls, compromise must be reached to safeguard healthcare

by Daily Editorial Board

Nurses working for Allina Health are continuing a strike for a second time in the past three months. The 4,800 nurses that work for the organization are currently being replaced by 1,500 replacement nurses.

The strikes started because nurses wanted better health insurance benefits. In the past, Nurses Union members received a health insurance plan which Allina claimed was far too expensive. This plan provided premiums between $10,272 and $20,148 dollars per year per family, whereas their health insurance plan for non-union employees was far less generous.

Allina predicted that this plan would become even more expensive by 2020 when the Affordable Care act would start charging 40 percent taxes on premiums that exceeded approximately $10,200.

But the purpose of the strikes has transcended beyond health insurance. According to Union Executive Director Rose Roach, in an interview with the Star Tribune, the strikes have also become about providing compensation for a job that has high risk of on-the-job illnesses and injury. Improving the state of security in hospital emergency departments was on the table during the last round of negotiations on Sept. 3 of this year.

Without listening to the demands of the nurses, the problems may get worse. Currently, nurses are currently the largest segment of the workforce. Yet, by 2025, the U.S. is projected to have the largest shortfall of nurses since the ‘60s.

As population increases and also ages, the demands for health services are projected to skyrocket. Without appropriate compensation for a profession that may soon be significantly strained, it won’t be possible to guarantee appropriate health care to all Americans.

The following steps are necessary: First, negotiations must be bound to both parties, and media should not be used as a medium to convey messages to the other party. Allina released a statement recently that drew criticism from the Union. In this statement, they complemented the nurses who were not on strike, seemingly chastising those who were on the picket lines.

We urge the Obama Administration to reconsider the “Cadillac Plan” tax, the main reason why the nurse’s health insurance premium would become so costly. People working in a profession that is bound for a major personnel shortage should be provided incentives to stay.

We also think that the Union should be willing to compromise. The point of negotiating is not to guarantee all demands but to ensure that the best possible choice is made.

Ultimately, the costs of the strike have been substantial. In addition to nearing the $20-million mark in terms of financial cost, patient care is also being jeopardized. Both sides must be work together with the objective of reaching a solution and refrain from grandstanding or obstructing any legitimate solution to this problem. Patients still need to be served. Nurses need to be compensated. Healthcare must prevail.