3 ways that SB 349 hurts California’s kidney patients



California resident Carl Riddle relies on getting dialysis treatment at night. The treatment filters toxins out of his blood because his kidneys can’t. With hundreds of thousands of Americans suffering from kidney failure, many rely on dialysis to survive, and nocturnal service is something that allows many – including Riddle – to keep working during the day.

But a bill in the California Senate would force dialysis centers to offer fewer shifts, possibly ending the availability of nocturnal dialysis services.

“[SB] 349 is trying to solve a problem that simply isn’t there,” Riddle recently told Nephrology News. “The quality of my care is great and this bill would have a negative impact on my lifestyle.”

Here are three reasons that Senate Bill 349 poses grave consequences for kidney patients in California.

1. SB 349 is about unions wanting to organize employees – not about patient safety.

    Senate Bill 349 completely ignores the needs of patients.

    Experts have noted that California dialysis clinics already enjoy some of the highest quality ratings available – 4 to 5 stars. That’s higher than in other states that actually have higher patient to staff ratios. California is doing an excellent job when it comes to patient safety.

    We don’t have anything against employees – they are critical to these services too – but their desire to unionize should not create hardship for sick patients.

2. SB 349 would increase the cost of services.

    Insurance companies have already started to discriminate against dialysis patients because of the high cost of their ongoing treatment.

    Everything we know from past experience indicates that adding more cost, especially when it isn’t needed, will have negative consequences for patients.

3. SB 349 would harm access to services and care that patients need to survive.

    The proposed staffing ratios require a lengthy transition time between serving patients – 45 minutes – an arbitrary number with no basis to support it.

    This time with an empty chair will negatively affect dialysis centers’ abilities to serve as many patients as possible, according to Nephrology News.

    This will also negatively affect social services. Many patients are able to keep working during the day because of nighttime dialysis treatments, keeping them off disability. For others it simply improves their quality of life, according to the American Association of Kidney Patients. Past stories on the news illustrate this as well.

We hope the California Legislature will protect patients’ access to health care and true safety needs – not a unionization effort at their expense.