SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — For the third election in a row, there’s a push on the ballot to change how the dialysis industry operates. It’s called Proposition 29 and while there is a renewed effort to get it passed, there is also organized opposition to it.
The critical function of a dialysis machine is to serve as a man-made kidney of sorts, taking blood from the body of a patient, filtering that blood, and then returning it back to the body.
“Dialysis is a life-saving process that keeps me alive,” DeWayne Cox said to FOX40 News. “Without it, I wouldn’t be here with you.”
Cox is one of 80,000 Californians who need to use a dialysis machine three times per week, for four hours at a time. Cox has had to travel regularly to dialysis clinics for treatment ever since he was first diagnosed with kidney failure more than 12 years ago.
“Even though it’s difficult and sometimes painful, it is the best process now that’s available for patients, other than a kidney transplant,” said Cox.
He worries California’s dialysis industry could soon change all because of this ballot measure.
“We have to defeat Proposition 29,” Cox declared.
Just as California saw with similar ballot measures during the 2020 and 2018 elections, Proposition 29 would require dialysis clinics to have either a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant physically on-site at dialysis clinics, or in some cases via telehealth.
The ‘Yes on 29’ campaign argues having that type of medical professional on-site will ensure clinics are prepared for emergency situations.
Renée Saldaña, with SEIU United Healthcare Workers West and a ‘Yes on 29’ proponent, says that, “patients can pass out, they can suffer heart attacks, or bleed out uncontrollably during or after treatments.”
“Prop 29 is about getting a doctor on-site for dialysis patients — a doctor or advanced clinician — who can handle life-and-death situations in the event of an emergency.”
The ‘Yes on 29’ campaign, including the SEIU United Healthcare Workers West Union, points out that the measure would also require the 600 dialysis clinics in California to report infection data to the state and mandate physicians publicly share when they have more than 5% ownership in a clinic. The state would also need to give final approval before a clinic closes or reduces staff.
“We want to improve the quality of care for patients across the state, and this is the core of our issues: improving the quality of care,” Saldaña said.
But the ‘No on 29’ campaign, funded in large part by dialysis providers Davida and Fresenius Medical Care, argues the measure’s requirements for staffing would be too costly, forcing some clinics to close.
The ‘Yes on 29’ campaign disputes that claim, but Cox says clinic closures under Proposition 29 is a valid concern, and it’s something he does not want to risk.
“That means the dialysis patients who normally have to rely on dialysis centers to be there for them will have to find other places likely further away from home, more difficult to get to, and some may miss dialysis sessions as I did once. And I ended up in the emergency room. It’s dangerous, scary, and life-threatening,” Cox said.