Minnesota nurses respond as Mayo Clinic warns about proposed legislation

The Minnesota Nurses Association responded on Monday to warnings from the Mayo Clinic that it may move planned investments in Minnesota to other states if two bills working their way through the legislature are passed.

The bills hope to increase nurse staffing levels and lower healthcare costs. However, the Mayo Clinic is worried parts of the bill could have unintended impacts. According to a Minnesota Reformer report, the Mayo Clinic is threatening to scale back investments in Minnesota if the bill becomes law.

According to the report, a Mayo lobbyist emailed Governor Walz's office last week, upset that lawmakers had not considered compromises proposed by Mayo. The message warned that the passage of the bill could result in Mayo scaling back its billion-dollar construction plan.

"Because these bills continue to proceed without meaningful and necessary changes to avert their harms to Minnesotans, we cannot proceed with seeking approval to make this investment in Minnesota," reads the message, as quoted by the Reformer. "We will need to direct this enormous investment to other states."

In a statement last week, the Minnesota Nurses Association referred to Mayo's message as "blackmail tactics." Speaking on Monday, the nurses again criticized Mayo leaders for trying to alter the legislation.

"Corporate health executives, like those at the Mayo Clinic, don't want to face the hard truth. That it is the unsafe, profit-driven staffing reductions that they are implementing that is causing this staffing crisis," one speaker said.

"When nurses don't have time to spend with patients, serious symptoms slip through the cracks and they suffer. And very bad things can happen very quickly," added Carrie Mortrud with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

In response, a representative from the Mayo Clinic wrote:

"We are disappointed with bill authors in the time being spent on a press conference when we could be using this time to make progress on a solution. Mayo remains committed to engaging with policymakers and other partners on legislation that will be in the best interests of patients, staff, the state and Mayo Clinic.

"Mayo Clinic has worked with policymakers for several months on proposed changes to the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act legislation that would provide a more comprehensive approach to address nursing shortages while ensuring Mayo Clinic can continue to fulfill its mission. We value input from our nurses – it is core to our staffing model. We agree our nursing staff face many challenges; however, we believe this bill does little to address the real challenge – recruitment and retention of the health care workers and staff Minnesotans need."

The bills are in the last stages of negotiations between House and Senate leaders.