Voters Divided on Ballot Question Regarding Nurse Staffing Levels
By Michael P. Norton
State House News Service
BOSTON -- Massachusetts voters are split over a ballot question limiting how many patients nurses can be assigned to in hospitals, and overwhelmingly support retaining the 2016 law governing access to public accommodations for transgender individuals, according to new poll results.
The WBUR/MassINC Polling Group ballot question survey results, released on Tuesday morning, found 44 percent favor Question 1, the nurse staffing proposal, while 44 percent oppose it, with 12 percent undecided.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has pushed the staffing measure to the Nov. 6 ballot, saying its passage would improve patient care and reduce medical errors while necessitating minimal new costs. Hospitals have led the opposition, predicting that compliance with the staffing mandates will force health care costs to soar higher and require hospitals to limit emergency room capacity.
The Health Policy Commission, an independent agency, in mid-August began a Question 1 analysis and officials there plan to unveil the results on Oct. 3, a month before the election, and discuss the analysis during annual cost trend hearings on Oct. 16-17.
A previously released Boston Globe/Suffolk University Polling Center survey of 500 likely voters, taken Sept. 13-17, found 52 percent of respondents support Question 1, while 33 percent opposed the nurse staffing question, with 15 percent undecided.
The WBUR poll of 506 likely voters, taken Sept. 17-21, found 71 percent of respondents favor the transgender accommodations law, with 21 percent favoring repeal of the law. Eight percent were undecided on Question 3, according to the poll.
Like the WBUR-MassINC poll, the Globe-Suffolk poll also found widespread support among responded for the transgender accommodations law, at 73-17.
Like the Globe/Suffolk poll, the WBUR/MassINC poll also showed voters favoring Question 2, which would create a commission to advance an amendment to the U.S. constitution aimed at limiting the influence of money in elections and establishing that corporations don’t have the same rights as humans.
Question 2 was favored by a 72-20 margin in the Globe poll and a 66-24 margin in the WBUR poll, with 9 percent undecided.