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Editorial: No on Prop.23: Union power play puts dialysis patients at risk

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE EDITORIAL BOARD September 23, 2020

As they were in 2018, state voters are being asked to micromanage the dialysis clinics that keep 80,000 Californians with failed kidneys alive by regularly cleaning their blood. Proposition 23, championed by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, suggests these clinics are unsafe and requires a medical doctor be on hand when patients are treated, among other provisions.

But federal statistics show that California’s dialysis clinics have a better safety record than the nation in general. And DaVita and Fresenius, the two large companies that dominate the dialysis industry, argue persuasively that they are being targeted for retribution for a second time by a union that has tried and failed to unionize their workers.

Meanwhile, independent reporting on dialysis clinics has not substantiated the claim that a doctor needs to be on hand when patients are linked to dialysis machines. This is one of the more common — and routine — medical procedures of all. A ballot measure that makes dialysis clinics more expensive is likely to lead to the closing of clinics with marginal profits, which are often in rural areas.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board acknowledges how much unions have helped their members, but their negotiations — and life or death medical decisions — shouldn’t spill over into the voting public and the state’s initiative process. That’s an abuse of power. Voters should send a clear message not to try this again. No on Proposition 23.