California voters reject Proposition 29’s mandates for kidney dialysis clinics
An attempt by the state health care agency to force the closure of kidney dialysis clinics failed in the California legislature Friday, when the Assembly of California passed a bill that would have limited the number of clinics and required kidney dialysis providers to follow the standards of other medical providers.
The new bill, which passed with a vote of 41-0 and is now awaiting Senate action, would have the health care agency determine the number of kidney dialysis clinics in the state “based only on financial considerations,” and would not mandate that any such clinics use the same type of dialysis machines, according to the text of the bill. It would also have outlawed the use of the word “kidney” in the name of any such clinics.
Critics of the bill said the law would not only cut funding to the clinics, which are vital to the health of many veterans, but also would hurt the quality of care. They also said the law was unnecessary, since dialysis clinics in many states already use the same medical equipment.
“We see this as a backdoor way of limiting access and we think this is not a good thing,” said Michael B. Henson, a spokesman with the American Legion.
In May, the California Department of Public Health issued a memorandum that indicated it was considering a law on opening fewer than 100 kidney dialysis clinics in the state. This had forced many clinics to reduce their hours or cut back on services while also suffering from decreasing income.
The governor, however, vetoed the bill, which would have required the clinics to continue offering dialysis services, as did most of the states that use the guidelines.
“It is critically important that veterans get all of the benefits of care they need without having to travel great distances or pay high prices,” said Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat and son of the late ex-Governor Jerry Brown, who vetoed similar legislation.
“This is more important than ever because many veterans have fallen ill because these dialysis clinics are closed,” Brown said.
The new bill, AB1395, passed with votes of 38-4 in the Assembly, and with the Senate’s approval, now waits in the state capital, Sacramento, for a