November 07, 2018
2 min read

California voters defeat initiative to control dialysis profits

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Voters in California turned down a union-backed ballot initiative by a majority on Nov. 6 that would have restricted profits of dialysis providers operating in the state.

With all precincts reporting, 4,278,882 voters, or 61.6%, had voted against Proposition 8, and 2,671,513 voters, or 38.4%, had approved the measure, according to results released from the California Secretary of State.

The 100,000-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-United Healthcare Workers West labor union, which spent $20.3 million to get the measure on the ballot, said in a statement that it would reorganize and try to get the ballot initiative reintroduced, as well as get it on the ballot in other states. It had pushed for a similar vote in Ohio this summer but was turned back after a state Supreme Court judge sided with the Ohio Renal Association on claims that the union had improperly filed paperwork for petition workers.

“This is only the beginning; we are in this for the long haul,” said dialysis patient care technician Emanuel Gonzales, whose father is a dialysis patient, in a press release issued by the group Yes Prop 8. “We intend to re-file this initiative for the 2020 ballot in California and we are preparing to bring it to other states in the 2020 election cycle.”

SEIU also said it would file a new version of California Senate Bill 1156, which would have disallowed third-party payers from paying for health care plan premiums and, similar to Proposition 8, would have placed limits on what dialysis providers could charge for care. That legislation was vetoed by California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr.

“We set out to hold the dialysis industry accountable, and that’s exactly what we’ve done and will continue to do. We won’t stop until it is truly reformed – putting patients before profits,” Gonzales said in the release.

If the measure was passed by the voters, dialysis providers would be allowed to only keep 15% of revenue over the cost of providing care. Licensing fees would also be charged to facilities for state inspections.

Dialysis providers led by Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita Inc., which operate more than 70% of the clinics in the state, spent $111.4 million to defeat the ballot initiative.

“Prop 8 would have harmed vulnerable dialysis patients by restricting access to life-saving dialysis treatments. Thankfully voters made the smart, compassionate decision to reject it,” said Theodore M. Mazer, MD, past president of the California Medical Association, which represents 43,000 physicians in California, in a press release issued by the group No Prop 8: Stop the Dangerous Dialysis Proposition. “CMA and its members have and will continue to always fight to support patient safety, while opposing any policies, whether at the ballot box or in the legislature, that restrict patients’ access to care.”

Upon the news of the defeat of Proposition 8, both Fresenius and DaVita saw a jump in their stock price, with Fresenius up more than 9% in early morning trading.