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SACRAMENTO – Because veterans are three times more likely to have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) than the general population,[1] veterans groups across the state, such as American Legion, Department of California; Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council; Disabled American Veterans, Department of California; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California and Military Order of the Purple Heart, Department of California, have denounced Proposition 23, the dangerous and costly dialysis proposition on the November ballot.

These groups, along with many others have joined a coalition of nearly 100 organizations including the American Nurses Association\California, California Medical Association and other healthcare, patients, nurses, doctors, social justice, and businesses opposed to Prop 23. 

“With so many health care uncertainties, too many veterans have trouble getting their medical needs met. Prop. 23 will make it even worse for veterans with kidney disease,” stated Edward J. Grimsley, Commander, American Legion, Department of California. “In fact, there are many veterans in California who do not use VA healthcare, but are Medicare or Medi-Cal recipients, who go to private providers. Our group is fully committed to opposing this terrible ballot measure.”

Dean Gotham, president, Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council said, “This is the second time in two years that the same special interest is targeting dialysis patients with a politically-motivated ballot proposition. How dare they? Veterans fought for this country, and their lives shouldn’t be put at risk because of politics. Shame on the people behind Prop 23 who don’t care about veterans with kidney disease.” 

Prop 23 is the special interest proposition that would seriously jeopardize access to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable dialysis patients, make our state’s physician shortage and ER overcrowding worse, all while increasing health care costs by hundreds of millions annually. It would force community dialysis clinics to cut services and close – putting the lives of vulnerable dialysis patients at serious risk.

If Prop 23 passes, nearly half of the 600 dialysis clinics in California would become financially unsustainable – resulting in clinic cutbacks and closures that would dangerously jeopardize access to dialysis care that dialysis patients need to survive. Dialysis treatment does the job of the kidneys by removing toxins from the body. Missing a single treatment increases patient risk of death by 30%.

John G. Lowe. State Commander Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California, said “We are opposed to Prop 23 because veterans have higher rates of kidney failure than the general population. We can’t cut off their lifeline to dialysis or make it more difficult to get treatment. We are doing everything we can to get the word out to veterans that they should vote no.”

Specifically:

In California, there are only seven VA medical facilities. That’s not nearly enough to treat all veterans in need of dialysis.  Those seven VA dialysis clinics are all located in dense urban areas. Veterans who don’t live near these VA facilities, who live in rural or suburban areas, all have to go to private providers. 

  • The majority of veterans get their dialysis treatment at community dialysis clinics, not the VA. This allows veterans on dialysis the ability to receive their dialysis treatments conveniently close to home, without having to travel long distances to VA medical facilities.

Background:

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.

Prop 23 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, amid 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. In 2018 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.

Please visit NoProp23.com for more information.  


[1] BMC Health Services Research and US Renal Data System https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-13-26#CR2