Sacramento – Doctors, nurses, patients and other members of the No on Proposition 23 coalition expressed gratitude that Californians once again voted to protect dialysis patients by overwhelmingly rejecting Proposition 23 (Prop 23). With nearly 10 million votes counted, Prop 23 was overwhelmingly failing, 36.2% yes to 63.8% no.
Coalition members also called out labor union SEIU-UHW (UHW) for its repeated abuse of California’s ballot initiative system as well as abuse of the state’s dialysis patients—having continually used them as pawns in the union’s ongoing political fight against dialysis providers. Prop 23 is the second time in two years that UHW has bankrolled a measure that directly endangered the lives of the state’s dialysis patients. In 2018, UHW backed Prop 8 which failed by 20 points.
“Thankfully the voters saw through UHW’s deceptive scheme, and they voted to protect dialysis patients like me,” said dialysis patient DeWayne Cox who lives in Los Angeles and was a strong No on 23 advocate. “UHW has no regard for what patients go through, otherwise they wouldn’t repeatedly put us in the middle of their political ploys, putting our access to lifesaving dialysis treatment at risk. I would die without dialysis, but UHW doesn’t seem to care. I’m a union supporter, but UHW is tarnishing all unions with actions like these that are so self-serving. I’m just glad voters saw through it.”
More than 100 groups opposed Prop 23, including the California Medical Association, American Nurses Association\California, California NAACP and many others. Prop 23 was also opposed by every daily newspaper editorial board in California.
Prop 23 would have jeopardized access to care for nearly 80,000 California dialysis patients and made the state’s physician shortage and ER overcrowding worse, all while increasing health care costs by hundreds of millions annually. Community dialysis clinics would have shut down, reducing access to dialysis for patients who need the treatment to stay alive.
“Prop 23 was dangerous for dialysis patients and there’s no doubt in my mind they would have suffered if it had passed,” said Dr. Edgard Vera, a nephrologist from Hesperia. “Backers of Prop 23 should be ashamed and should hear what voters continue to say, twice, that they want no part of this political game. UHW should listen to patients and to voters and stop this cycle of dialysis patient and ballot box abuse.”
Dialysis patients with failed kidneys 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 was sponsored and funded by largely one labor union – the 100,000-member United Healthcare Workers West– which has a long and expensive history of filing ballot initiatives to further its organizing agenda. Since 2012, SEIU-UHW has filed 23 state and local initiatives in California at a cost of $53.7 million. Nationally the total spent on ballot initiatives is $76.7 million on 47 ballot initiatives. The overwhelming majority of those ballot propositions have either failed, been revoked or withdrawn.
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. Please visit NoProp23.com for more information.