November 04, 2020
1 min read

Californians vote down measure that required physicians to supervise dialysis treatments

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A California ballot measure that requires outpatient dialysis clinics to have a physician present during all dialysis treatments failed by a 2-1 margin on election night.

Proposition 23, also known as the Protect the Lives of Dialysis Patient Act, would also have required state department of health approval before a dialysis provider could close a clinic and mandate dialysis providers submit quarterly reports on infection rates to the state.

According to the Secretary of State, the vote was 36% (4,107,628) in favor of the ballot measure and 64% (7,310,295) against the measure.

“Prop 23 was dangerous for dialysis patients, and there’s no doubt in my mind they would have suffered if it had passed,” Edgard Vera, MD, a nephrologist from Hesperia, California, said in a press release from the group NoProp23.

Health care workers union Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West organized the effort to get the proposition on the ballot. The union has been involved in both legislative and ballot-directed initiatives in the past that dealt with the dialysis industry.

However, the ballot initiative was opposed by 100 groups including dialysis providers and a coalition of state health care organizations such as the California Medical Association, the state chapter of the American Nurses Association, the California State Conference of the NAACP and the National Hispanic Medical Association. Prop 23 was also opposed by every daily newspaper editorial board in California, according to NoProp23.

Major newspapers also wrote editorials that opposed the ballot measure, according to NoProp23. The group has received funding from DaVita Inc., Fresenius Medical Care and U.S. Renal Care. DaVita and Fresenius treat 75% of patients on dialysis in the state.

Proposition 23 is the second time in 2 years that SEIU-UHW has funded a ballot measure aimed at the dialysis industry. In 2018, the labor union backed Prop 8, a measure which would have restricted profits of dialysis providers operating in the state.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the final vote count.