LAO says measure could result in dialysis clinic closures, which would endanger patient lives.

SACRAMENTO – This week, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released its summary of the fiscal impacts of Proposition 23, the Dangerous & Costly Dialysis Proposition on this November’s ballot. The LAO found the measure would increase health care costs for dialysis clinics and taxpayers and could lead to clinic closures.  From the LAO report:

  • “The measure’s requirement that each CDC (community dialysis clinic) have a doctor onsite during all treatment hours would increase each CDC’s costs by several hundred thousand dollars annually on average. (page 6)
  • “Given higher costs due to the measure… entities, particularly those with fewer clinics, may decide to close some clinics. (page 7)
  • “(The) measure Could Increase Health Care Costs for State and Local Governments by Low Tens of Millions of Dollars Annually. (page 8)
  • “Under the measure, state Medi-Cal costs, and state and local employee and retiree health insurance costs could increase.”. (page 8)

The LAO report reinforces research done by the respected firm Berkeley Research Group:

  • “The initiative’s physician at-all-times requirement would increase costs statewide for all clinics by $328 million annually. (page 1)
  • That averages a cost increase of $582,189 per clinic per year.” (page 1)
  • “47% of clinics would have negative operating margins if the initiative passes.” (page 1)
  • “Thus, it is certain that this proposed ballot initiative will result in the closure of many clinics and the withdrawal of dialysis services from thousands of patients who must have these services to stay alive.” (page 14)
  • “What is less certain is how many clinics will close, and where the displaced patients will go to receive dialysis treatment.” (page 14)

Nearly 100 groups oppose Prop 23, including the California Medical Association, American Nurses Association\California, and many others because it would jeopardize the lives of dialysis patients by forcing hundreds of dialysis clinics to cut back services or shut down completely – making it more difficult for dialysis patients to access their life-saving treatments.

Furthermore, this dangerous and costly dialysis measure would make the state’s current doctor shortage and emergency room overcrowding even worse, while unnecessarily increasing health care costs for taxpayers and consumers by hundreds of millions of dollars every year. All of this, in the midst of a global pandemic, threatens to put a strain on necessary health care resources across California.

There are approximately 80,000 dialysis patients in California with failed kidneys who need machines to clean their blood and remove toxins from their bodies. Patients must receive dialysis treatment three times a week for four hours at a time to stay alive. Access to consistent dialysis treatments is so important that just one missed treatment increases patients’ risk of death by 30%.

Prop 23 is sponsored by the United Healthcare Workers West (UHW) union – the same organization that abused California’s initiative process two years ago by bankrolling Proposition 8 on the 2018 ballot. Prop 8 would have also caused dialysis clinics throughout California to cut back services or shut down, dangerously threatening dialysis patients’ lives. That’s why every daily newspaper in California opposed Prop 8 and voters overwhelmingly rejected it by 20 points. Now, this special interest group is at it again with a different attempt, but the same outcome, that would put dialysis patients lives at risk.

While unions have the right to try to unionize workers, it’s not right to abuse the initiative system and use vulnerable patients as political pawns – especially now in the face of a public health crisis.

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