Patient Freedom Coalition Announces Nearly 6,000 Patients Signed Petition Opposing Dialysis Ballot Initiative

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 General News
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SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the

Patient Freedom Coalition announced that more than 5,600 dialysis patients across California, and more than 1,000 of their family members and care givers have signed petition cards stating their opposition to a measure
slated to appear on the California November ballot that could reduce access to life-saving dialysis care for patients.

These cards were signed over a two-week period by End Stage Renal Disease patients, their loved ones and care givers at Fresenius Kidney Care clinics. Similar patient petition drives may continue ahead of the November election; therefore, the number by Election Day will likely be substantially higher.

"Patients are opposed to this measure for one simple reason – it could lead to significant reductions in access to the care they need," said Dr. Bryan Wong, a practicing nephrologist in Berkeley.  "Missing even a single dialysis treatment session can result in a visit to the emergency room or even death. That is why this measure is so troubling. Patients deserve to be heard."

The ballot initiative severely limits what health insurance companies are required to pay for dialysis care in California. These limits do not cover the actual cost of providing care. Specifically, it would require community dialysis clinics to issue rebates to health insurance companies for any treatment fee exceeding 115 percent of what the initiative defines as "patient care services costs." This could result in clinics failing to cover their operating costs, leading to a potential reduction of access to care. With the demand for dialysis in California already high and increasing at almost five percent per year, and dialysis patients already facing limited treatment schedules, any clinic closures -- especially in inner city, rural or remote areas -- could have significant impacts.

"I am glad patients like me have the ability to have our voices heard, because we are the ones who stand to be most directly impacted by this measure," said Glenda Hines, a patient who receives dialysis treatment three times a week in Oakland. "It's unfortunate that supporters of the measure appear to want to silence us. If my clinic were forced to close, I am not sure where I would turn. I understand this is politics, but patient lives should not be put at risk because of politics."

In addition to the more than 5,600 patients who are now on record as opposing this ill-conceived initiative, a broad coalition of 95 stakeholder organizations, ranging from the California Medical Association to the California State Conference NAACP, is also aligned against it. On the other side, support for the measure is led by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), which has spent $30 million in recent years on ballot measures in California, including nearly $6 million this year on hiring paid petitioners to collect signatures to get this initiative on the ballot and run a misinformation campaign in support of it.

"This measure is supported by people and organizations with little understanding of complex healthcare systems. The disregard for the impacts their reckless actions could have on dialysis patients is deeply troubling," added Dr. Wong. "Rather than improving patient care, it will make it worse."

The Patient Freedom Coalition, a project of Fresenius Kidney Care, will be an active presence in the state in the coming months, ensuring that patients are able to have their voices heard on issues that directly impact their essential care.

Paid for by Fresenius Medical Care

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SOURCE Patient Freedom Coalition

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