California dialysis initiative prompts more than $100M in spending


A California dialysis initiative has prompted big spending on both sides of the issue, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Proposition 8, known as the Fair Pricing for Dialysis Act, would shrink the profits of dialysis clinics across the state. The initiative would require clinics to give rebates to insurers and pay a penalty on business revenues over 115 percent of certain costs to provide care. Rebates would not go to government programs that provide lower reimbursement, such as Medicare.

A coalition led by DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, two major for-profit dialysis companies, have spent $110 million toward beating the measure, according to the report.

If the initiative passes, opponents contend dialysis clinics won't be able to cover their operating costs, clinics will close and patients will lose access to dialysis. DaVita CEO Kent Thiry described the initiative — which is sponsored by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West — as "an effort to force unionization of employees."

"There is an established and accepted process for employees to vote a union up or down. Instead of following that process, SEIU-UHW is pursuing a dangerous initiative that puts patients at grave risk," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Dave Regan, head of SEIU-UHW, told the publication the union is not trying to force employees to unionize but instead seeks to curb dialysis industry profits he deems "predatory." The union also argues the ballot measure, if passed, would compel dialysis companies to spend more money on taking care of patients.

According to the report, the union has raised $18.8 million in support of the initiative.

Voters will decide the measure on Nov. 6.


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