August 15, 2017

In Case You Missed It: San Diego Union-Tribune condemns United Healthcare Workers West for using dialysis patients like “political pawns.”

For Immediate Release:  August 15, 2017 Contact: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872

In Case You Missed It:

San Diego Union-Tribune condemns United Healthcare Workers West for using dialysis patients like “political pawns.”

SACRAMENTO – The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board condemned the latest political manipulation by United Healthcare Workers West (UHW) after UHW filed two ballot measures last week related to dialysis care. Said the UT editorial: “The proposals are similar to those contained in two bills that SEIU-UHW is backing before the Legislature. The spin from the SEIU-UHW is that the union is crusading for a healthier California, not trying yet again to get leverage over health-care employers. But the claim that clinic staffers ‘want these reforms regardless of what happens with their union efforts’ rings hollow.” The initiatives come as SB 349, the bill that mandates costly staffing ratios in dialysis clinics, is pending in the Assembly in the final weeks of the legislative session. The union is pushing the bill after failing to unionize California dialysis clinics. The UT editorial board called UHW “callous” by filing the initiatives and that “Californians with failing kidneys have enough worries. They should not be political pawns.” There is no evidence that staffing ratios lead to better care. Federal government data which tracks dialysis clinics’ quality performance nationwide demonstrates that California clinics are outperforming other states with mandated ratios in both quality and patient satisfaction. SB 349 is a solution in search of a problem. The editorial points out that this isn’t the first time UHW has used the ballot initiative process to threaten its political opponents. “The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers has a taste for political hardball. In recent years, it’s pushed for California ballot measures that would limit hospital executives’ pay and cap hospital charges to try to create leverage to force health-care providers to increase SEIU-UHW-represented workers on their payrolls. In 2014, The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board likened these tactics to “blackmail.” SB 349 is opposed by the Renal Physicians Association, National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, American Nurses Association of California, California Association of Rural Health Clinics, California Hospital Association, Lupus Foundation of Southern California, California Dialysis Council and many others. Click here for a full coalition list. 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.