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More Than A Hundred Million Spent To Kill California Proposition

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Sacramento, CA — Dialysis companies have contributed an extraordinary $111 million to defeat a California ballot initiative.

Proposition 8 would cap profits for dialysis clinics that provide treatment for people with damaged kidneys. Dialysis companies make around $3 billion in annual profits from California clinics, according to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, with the largest for-profit dialysis providers being Fresenius, headquartered in Germany, and Denver-based DaVita Inc. The two have joined forces to fund the bulk of the No on 8 campaign.

In fact, a $5 million donation was made just this week by Fresenius. That injection of funds pushed the no campaign’s total past the $109 million pharmaceutical companies spent two years ago to defeat a measure limiting prescription drug costs. More than $70 million of that money has gone to television and radio ads as well as consulting services in the last two months. It is the most spent by any group on one side of a U.S. ballot issue since at least 2002, according to the most recent data available.

The proposition would restricts dialysis clinics from charging patients more than 115 percent of what providers spend on patient care and quality improvement. If clinics exceed that amount, they must pay rebates or penalties, but the law does not spell out exactly which expenses will count toward the limits. The campaign supporting the measure is led by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, which has raised $18 million.

Supporters say passage will ensure dialysis companies put patients before profits. Dialysis providers argue that the measure is just a tactic to pressure the companies to let workers unionize.

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