Funding in Proposition 8 dialysis center profit campaign nears record

The dialysis initiative Proposition 8 is drawing lots of money as November election nears. Funding to oppose the initiative is close to $98 million nearing the record of $109 million to oppose 2016’s Proposition 61 which sought to cap prescription drug prices. The measure seeks to limit the revenues for dialysis treatment to 115 percent of the costs of care and protects Medi-Cal patients from source of income discrimination.

Supporters of Prop. 8 argue that a cap on dialysis center revenues will protect patients by forcing profits back into care. They claim large dialysis clinics skimp on staff and maintenance in favor of profits citing reports of mice, cockroaches, bloodstains, and broken equipment in clinics resulting in more than 1,400 deficiencies during inspections at dialysis clinics in fiscal year 2016-2017.

However, despite the shocking stories, opponents argue that this is nothing more than an attempt on the part of unions to break into the largely non-unionized dialysis chains. DaVita Kidney Care and Fresenius Medical Care are the two largest funders of the No on Proposition 8 campaign contributing a total of close to $90 million. They made a combined $4 billion in profits from their U.S. dialysis operations in 2017, and own and operate 72 percent of all dialysis clinics in the state.  Both have resisted efforts to unionize staff by SEIU-UHW, the major sponsor of Prop. 8.

According to the Yes on 8 campaign, the measure is also supported by more than 130 organizations, including health care, veterans and community groups, civil rights and social justice organizations, churches and labor unions. Dialysis companies, physician groups, and several other organizations including the California Medical Association, the National Kidney Foundation of Northern California, and the American Nurses Association of California, oppose the bill saying that price caps will harm patients because they will results in payments too low to actually cover the costs to clinics of providing treatment, forcing cutbacks and potentially closures of smaller clinics.