Californians are at a bit of an impasse concerning Proposition 8, a ballot initiative which has pit people on all ends of the dialysis spectrum, recipients and caregivers at odds with each other. Essentially, the proposition would put a cap on the revenue generated by California dialysis clinics.
Unionized healthcare workers and dialysis recipients are generally in favor of the Proposition, citing that dialysis centers already make enormous amounts of money and a revenue cap is necessary. If passed, the proposition would also necessitate that dialysis centers provide rebates to those overcharged, and in some cases, would have to pay out insurance companies.
The medical establishment, chiefly those who manage dialysis centers, tend to be against the proposition saying that a revenue cap would compromise standards of care provided for low-income patients, as clinics would need to see fewer patients to compensate for added expenses, and in some cases, certain clinics may be forced to close.
However, this argument quickly loses validity as it’s pretty clear that dialysis providers aren’t hurting for money, with DaVita and Fresenius (two leading dialysis companies) making over $4 billion last year alone! See this video for reference.
The main goal of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in promoting Proposition 8 is to stop dialysis companies from overcharging people who are already compromised by chronic kidney disease on numerous fronts: physically, mentally and yes, financially. Opponents of the proposition are saying it’s a reactionary tactic to SEIU’s failure to unionize dialysis healthcare workers. People on both sides of the debate have donated millions already, but those opposed (i.e., the dialysis providers) have been able to, rather unsurprisingly, front more funds than proponents of Proposition 8, invalidating their own assertions of limited funds for the people who are supposed to matter most to them…the patients themselves.
In the world of healthcare, and especially when it comes to dialysis, access to that healthcare is a matter of life and death. With the companies that preside over the whole process treating it as primarily a business and using this access (especially to low-income and other marginalized groups) as a bargaining chip is beyond coercive, it’s completely lacking in basic human decency.
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