Some voters confused over Prop. 8, whether to cap revenues earned by dialysis clinics

Ads for and against Proposition 8 are flooding the  airwaves across California. 

But instead of helping people decide,  many voters say they're left confused.

If passed, it would cap the revenues earned by dialysis clinics in California that treat the state's 80,000 people with kidney disease. 

"Dialysis companies, in our view,  are the worse abusers of healthcare price explosion and price gouging of patients," said Dave Regan. He is the president of SEIU,  the union that represents healthcare workers in California.  The union is the sponsor of Proposition 8.

"It's short-sighted in terms of how it affects the patients," said Dr. Bryan Wong, who is  among the  medical professionals opposing Proposition 8.  

He is the medical director for a dialysis clinic in East Oakland that is owned by Fresenius,  one of the state's two largest dialysis companies. 

Dr. Wong says if proposition 8 passes, clinics such as his that serve low-income patients and barely break even, would serve fewer patients and could cause some clinics to close. 

"It would then drive up the cost of care because the patients will show up in emergency rooms whereby the cost of dialysis on patients in the  in-patient setting is a lot more costly," said Dr. Wong.  

"Dialysis is too expensive.  DaVita and Fresenius together, the two dominant companies in dialysis in California made over $4 billion in profits last year," said Regan.  

According to the  official voter information guide put out by the California Secretary of State,  a "yes" vote means dialysis clinics would have their revenues limited by a formula and could be required to pay rebates, primarily to health insurance companies , that pay for dialysis treatments. 


"Neither side can necessarily predict the future," said Yvonne Leow, co-founder of By the Bay, a San Francisco-based media company that put out a nonpartisan voter guide. 

She  says it's unclear what the impact of Proposition 8 will be on clinics if it passes and that  voters should ask themselves this quesiton when deciding,"Do you agree that dialysis companies are making a lot of money already and that their costs should be capped at 115 percent?"   

Leow  says Proposition 8 is the product of SEIU's unsuccessful efforts to unionize dialysis healthcare workers. 

SEIU  says its goal is to stop companies from overcharging.    

 Both sides have already spent tens of millions of dollars on the campaign for and against Proposition 8, with the "no" said outspending its supporters.

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