July 13, 2017

National Hispanic Medical Association joins other doctors, nurses, patients and providers in opposition to SB 349 (Lara)

For Immediate Release:  July 13, 2017 Contact: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872

National Hispanic Medical Association joins other doctors, nurses, patients and providers in opposition to SB 349 (Lara)

Dialysis clinic staffing ratio bill will reduce patient access to dialysis treatments.

SACRAMENTO – Another influential physician group has opposed SB 349 (Lara), a bill sponsored by the United Healthcare Workers union that mandates arbitrary staffing ratios in dialysis clinics. The bill also mandates an unnecessary 45-minute “time out” between patients. Elena Rios, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, representing 50,000 Hispanic physicians, weighed in on SB 349, noting that “Hispanics or Latinos are the largest racial/ethnic minority population in the US. Hispanics experience more deaths from diabetes, chronic liver disease, and kidney diseases. As a result, these patient will be particularly susceptible to any measure that would reduce access or increase the cost of dialysis, as SB 349 would do.” NHMA joins other prominent organizations representing doctors, nurses, patients, veterans and health care providers opposing SB 349, including Renal Physicians Association, National Medical Association, California Association of Rural Health Clinics, American Nurses Association of California, Lupus Foundation of Southern California and many others. There is no evidence that staffing ratios lead to better care. In fact, objective data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates dialysis clinics nationwide, show that California’s clinics outperform clinics in other states, including states that already have mandated ratios. California leads in both patient satisfaction and clinical quality scores. 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 and specified “time outs” between treatments 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.