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Prop 8: Differing opinions on how dialysis patients would be affected

Posted: 6:22 PM, Oct 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-23 22:35:34-04

More money has gone toward advertisements for Proposition 8 than any other proposition on this November’s ballot.

Prop. 8 has to do with dialysis and how dialysis clinics conduct their business.

One in seven American adults has chronic kidney disease. In California, 66,000 people have conditions so severe that they require dialysis at least three times a week. It’s a life-saving treatment.

“This is a dialysis machine and this is the dialyzer,” explained Violette McClain, a local dialysis nurse who is against on Prop. 8. “So this is basically like an artificial kidney and this is what our patients depend on to filter their blood, remove the toxins, remove the fluid.”

Proposition 8 would essentially cap dialysis clinic revenue at 15 percent. It would require clinics to refund their patients or their insurers if their revenue exceeds the 15-percent cap.

The opposition argues this would lead to clinic closures and cutbacks in services, forcing patients to travel farther for treatment.

“Even if you don’t know a dialysis patient, it’s still going to affect you,” McClain said. “We have four hospitals in our county. We are considered a rural area with limited access to healthcare already. I think a lot of people in our community can agree with me on that and if we funnel all of my dialysis patients into the ER, it’s going to increase wait times. It’s going to put hospitals under increased pressure.”

Opponents add that under Prop. 8, 83 percent of dialysis clinics would operate at a loss.

Proponents disagree.

“It’s all about the companies keeping the profit in their pockets,” said Guadalupe Tellez, a local dialysis nurse who supports Prop. 8. “There is no way a dialysis company is going to close when they’re multi-billion dollar companies and they’re keeping 15 percent profit.”

“What they’re not taking into account are all the positions that are not being addressed in Prop. 8 – medical directors, clinical coordinators, facility administrators, human resources, payroll – all of those things that we provide for our patients and for our teammates are not being accounted for,” McClain said.

Those in favor of the proposition argue it would actually incentivize clinics to spend revenue on healthcare improvements.

“We’re going to benefit the patients by having proper staffing and good working conditions, good hygiene in the clinics. Also, as consumers you know the insurance companies are going to end up saving money so, at the end of the line as consumers, our insurance premiums might change,” Tellez explained.

“I’m no on Prop. 8 because I know it’s going to affect my patient’s lives. I’ve devoted my life to being a dialysis nurse. My patients are like my family and I know they are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” McClain concluded.

“I want to make it simple for the voters. I want to tell the voters that a yes vote, very simple, a yes vote is going to benefit the patients and the staff,” Tellez said in closing.

Opponents have outspent supporters five-to-one when it comes to the funding of advertisements for this proposition.