Editorials

Vote No on Proposition 23, a cynical threat to dialysis care

The Orange County Register August 06, 2020 By The Editorial Board

Even though it seems everyone’s a public-health expert these days, California voters have no business — and presumably very little interest — in getting into the minutiae of health-clinic regulations in our state.

Leave that to the experts, right? Or at least to lawmakers in Sacramento?

Wrong, if you are a Golden State voter needing to decide on the propositions that will soon arrive on your vote-by-mail ballot.

Just as you were forced to only two years ago with Proposition 8 in 2018, you are being asked with this year’s Proposition 23 to create, or decline to, new rules for dialysis clinics throughout California.

There is no medical or public-health reason to put us through making this decision again. Two years ago, voters rejected Prop. 8 by about a 60-40 margin. There is no indication whatsoever that dialysis clinics are unsafe in California. And yet, on your ballot, you will be asked to decide whether clinics, for instance, must have an on-site physician while patients are being treated, and whether they should have to report infection statistics to the state rather than the federal government.

But patients already frequently meet with their own physicians in these clinics. The nurses who run the clinics now are fully capable of high-level medical oversight. Many clinics are open 16 hours a day; if an additional staff physician is required, it would add more than $200,000 a year to their expenses.

So this isn’t about Californians’ well-being. The ballot measure wasn’t created by dialysis patients upset by their healthcare options. Its backer is SEIU-UHW West, a healthcare workers’ labor union that has not been successful in organizing employees in dialysis clinics. Its electoral plan is apparently to make the two companies that own most of the state’s clinics spend so much money fighting ballot initiatives every two years that they have a hard time staying in business.

That kind of chicanery makes a mockery of California’s initiative system and of your time as a citizen and voter.

Still, the responsible move is to join us, the California Medical Association, the California NAACP and dialysis patients’ advocacy groups in voting No on Prop. 23 on your November ballot.