Fight over California dialysis profits initiative heats up

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Both sides have spent millions of dollars in the battle over a California ballot initiative to cap dialysis clinic profits, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West sponsored the initiative, which will go before voters in November. SEIU-UHW has invested nearly $17 million in the measure, according to the report. DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, two major for-profit dialysis companies, have invested $40 million and $22 million respectively to fight against the effort. Dialysis companies opposed to the measure have raised more than $72 million overall.

Proposition 8, known as the Fair Pricing for Dialysis Act, would limit the amount insurance companies are required to reimburse dialysis clinics for treatment to 115 percent of allowable costs. Under the initiative, dialysis clinic revenue above that threshold would be rebated largely to insurers. Rebates would not go to government programs such as Medicare that provide lower reimbursement.

Supporters argue the cap on profits would lead to greater investment in patient care, as well as lower executive salaries and lower costs for privately insured patients, according to the report. Opponents contend dialysis clinics won't be able to cover their operating costs, clinics will close, and patients will lose access to dialysis if the initiative passes.

Laurel Lucia, director of the healthcare program at the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California-Berkeley, told KHN passage and successful implementation of the initiative could lead other states to consider similar measures. According to the report, pushes for similar measures in Ohio and Arizona did not make it on November ballots.


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