August 1, 2017

In Case You Missed It: East Bay Times and San Jose Mercury News Editorials Oppose SB 349

For Immediate Release:  August 1, 2017 Contact: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872

In Case You Missed It:

East Bay Times and San Jose Mercury News Editorials Oppose SB 349

East Bay Times: SB 349 is dangerous to patients (especially poor ones), will increase costs and likely won’t improve quality.”

San Jose Mercury News: Bill to Raise Costs of Dialysis Threatens Patients’ Lives”

SACRAMENTO – Today, the East Bay Times and San Jose Mercury News editorialized in opposition to Senate Bill 349 (Lara). They join editorial boards throughout the state that are strongly opposed to the bill. SB 349 establishes mandatory staffing ratios in dialysis clinics, despite the fact that there is no evidence that staffing ratios lead to better care. From the East Bay Times:
  • “…it is dangerous to patients (especially poor ones), will increase costs and likely won’t improve quality.”
  • “First, there is no empirical evidence that such staffing changes result in better care. On the contrary, there is statistical evidence from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that indicate California’s dialysis clinics rate higher in quality and patient satisfaction than clinics in other states that have such mandatory ratios. In addition, California and Oregon are tied with the lowest infection rates in the U.S.”
  • “Second, establishing such ratios imposes significant new costs on clinic operations. Those who can’t afford to cover those costs will see fewer patients. Clinics in rural areas and low-income communities that treat large numbers of patients on Medi-Cal, where the reimbursement rate doesn’t cover the cost of care, are the most likely to cut services.”
  • “…renal physicians, nurses, patients, veterans groups, the National Kidney Foundation and the California Dialysis Council oppose this bill. Loudly so. These are the interest groups that are the most impacted by the changes that would be advanced in this bill. They are against SB 349 and so are we.”
From San Jose Mercury News:
  • “An insidious bill in the California Legislature that purports to improve medical care will actually endanger the most vulnerable of lives: Low income and elderly residents who need regular dialysis for their very survival.”
  • “The law will raise costs, forcing reductions in life-saving service in some areas. Not only that, it purports to solve a problem that does not exist: Far from having dangerous dialysis centers, California is tied with Oregon for the lowest infection rates for dialysis in the U.S.”
  • “Hardest hit will be clinics in rural areas and low-income communities that treat large numbers of patients on Medi-Cal, whose reimbursement rate doesn’t cover the cost of care. Their patients are the most likely to suffer.”
The following newspapers have editorialized against SB 349:
  1. LA Daily News
  2. Orange County Register
  3. Riverside Press-Enterprise
  4. San Bernardino Sun
  5. Redlands Daily Facts
  6. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin,
  7. San Gabriel Valley Tribune
  8. Whittier Daily News
  9. Pasadena Star News
  10. Torrance Daily Breeze
  11. Long Beach Press Telegram
  12. San Jose Mercury News
  13. East Bay Times
About SB 349: SB 349 would mandate rigid staffing ratios at dialysis clinics and adds a 45-minute “time out” transition time between patient appointments. Doctors, nurses, patients and dialysis clinics warn the bill is:
  • Dangerous for Patients ­– Arbitrary staff ratios would result in fewer available appointments, more missed treatments and a dangerous backlog of needed care. California already faces a shortage of dialysis clinics and appointment times, as well as staff. SB 349 will reduce the availability of treatment slots, increasing hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and will end in less flexibility for working patients as evening and overnight treatments would be jeopardized.
  • Costly for California and Medi-Cal – According to the Senate Appropriations Committee analysis of SB 349: “By imposing staffing requirements that exceed current practices in chronic dialysis clinics, the bill will increase the costs to operate those clinics. This is likely to increase Medi-Cal managed care payments to chronic dialysis clinics…. To the extent that chronic dialysis clinics have difficulty meeting the required staff to patient ratios, it is possible that patients would seek treatment in emergency departments and/or hospital inpatient dialysis units. Receiving dialysis in those settings is likely to be substantially more expensive than receiving dialysis in a clinic. Any such increases in the cost to provide dialysis would impact Medi-Cal.”
  • Unnecessary Federal data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that California dialysis clinics outperform dialysis clinics nationwide in both clinical quality and patient satisfaction, including outperforming states with some form of mandated staffing ratios.
Visit our website to learn more about the provisions that will be dangerous for patients.