For Immediate Release: August 9, 2017
Contact: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872
DialysisPatients1st responds to ballot measures filed by United Healthcare Workers West union today.
UHW once again threatening to use statewide ballot initiatives to further its agenda – to the detriment of patients.
SACRAMENTO – Today, DialysisPatients1st issued the following statement in response to news first reported in the LA Times that the United Healthcare Workers West union has filed statewide ballot initiatives that would harm dialysis patients by greatly reducing access to care. The initiatives include policy which mirrors SB 349 (Lara) – flawed legislation that would be dangerous for dialysis patients. UHW has a long history of filing ballot measures in an attempt to gain members. The statement below can be attributed to Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman for DialysisPatients1st:
“This is not the first time United Healthcare Workers West has threatened to use the initiative process to put their union member-building agenda ahead of what’s good for patients. While filing an initiative is only the first step in a long process, these initiatives would be dangerous for patients by reducing access to life-saving dialysis care. That’s why these policies are opposed by doctors, dialysis clinic workers, patients, veterans, nurses and many others. It’s shameful that this organization would threaten to put the lives and quality care of tens of thousands of dialysis patients at risk just to further their own agenda.” – Kathy Fairbanks
The dialysis staffing ratio legislation, SB 349, is opposed by the Renal Physicians Association, National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, American Nurses Association of California, California Association of Rural Health Clinics, California Hospital Association, Lupus Foundation of Southern California, California Dialysis Council and many others. Click here for a full coalition list.
Editorial boards including the East Bay Times, Southern California News Group and San Jose Mercury News are opposed calling SB 349 “insidious” and note that it “will actually endanger the most vulnerable of lives: Low income and elderly residents who need regular dialysis for their very survival.”
Background on SB 349:
SB 349 would mandate rigid staffing ratios at dialysis clinics and adds a 45-minute “time out” transition time between patient appointments. Doctors, nurses, patients and dialysis clinics warn the bill is:
- Dangerous for Patients – Arbitrary staff ratios would result in fewer available appointments, more missed treatments and a dangerous backlog of needed care. California already faces a shortage of dialysis clinics and appointment times, as well as staff. SB 349 will reduce the availability of treatment slots, increasing hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and will end in less flexibility for working patients as evening and overnight treatments would be jeopardized.
- Costly for California and Medi-Cal – According to the Senate Appropriations Committee analysis of SB 349: “By imposing staffing requirements that exceed current practices in chronic dialysis clinics, the bill will increase the costs to operate those clinics. This is likely to increase Medi-Cal managed care payments to chronic dialysis clinics…. To the extent that chronic dialysis clinics have difficulty meeting the required staff to patient ratios, it is possible that patients would seek treatment in emergency departments and/or hospital inpatient dialysis units. Receiving dialysis in those settings is likely to be substantially more expensive than receiving dialysis in a clinic. Any such increases in the cost to provide dialysis would impact Medi-Cal.”
- Unnecessary – Federal data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that California dialysis clinics outperform dialysis clinics nationwide in both clinical quality and patient satisfaction, including outperforming states with some form of mandated staffing ratios.
Visit our website to learn more about the provisions that will be dangerous for patients.