Legislators will negotiate a final health care cost-control bill over the next five weeks, which means industry groups will push hard to make their views heard. One group, the union 1199SEUI, is beginning a television advertising campaign Tuesday aimed at saving jobs.
SEIU, the state’s largest health care union with 46,000 workers, has two key priorities: higher Medicaid payments for providers and job-retraining programs for its members.
Union officials believe jobs will be lost as the state tries to slow the growth in medical spending, but say they don’t know the precise number. They want the final bill to include a “Healthcare Workforce Transformation Fund” to retrain workers for the jobs that are expected to become more prevalent, such as care coordinators for chronically-ill patients.
“Make sure healthcare cost control is done right,” the ads implore legislators, to the backdrop of nurses, technologists, rehabilitation specialists, and janitors in hospital rooms and corridors.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association has raised fears that too-aggressive cost-cutting will harm an industry that employs one in seven Massachusetts residents.
But two Harvard economists argued in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month that health care jobs have no place in the policy debate. “Salaries for health care jobs are not manufactured out of thin air -- they are produced by someone paying higher taxes, a patient paying for more health care, or an employee taking home lower wages because higher health insurance premiums are deducted from his or her paycheck,” wrote Harvard School of Public Health professors Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra.