Advocates Submit Signatures to Qualify Ohio Ballot Initiative to Improve Dialysis Care
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Patient advocates submitted more than 475,000 signatures to Ohio state election officials to qualify an initiative for the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot that seeks to improve patient care at dialysis clinics.
“When talking with Ohio voters, they shared so many stories of loved ones with kidney failure being overlooked by the healthcare system,” said Dr. Ean Bett, an Ohio physician who supports the initiative. “The goal of this initiative is to protect those patients – not the profits of dialysis corporations – and that’s why voters were so enthusiastic about getting this on the November ballot.”
Supporters needed to collect 305,591 signatures from Ohio registered voters, and the Ohio Secretary of State is expected to announce by July 24 whether the proposed amendment qualifies for the November ballot.
The Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment would:
- require annual health and safety inspections of dialysis clinics;
- limit how much clinics can charge for patient care;
- require annual reporting of patient care charges by dialysis clinics; and
- impose penalties on clinics for overcharging for patient care.
Voters in Ohio strongly favor the initiative, according to a poll conducted in May. Sixty-seven percent of respondents support the initiative, including 78 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Independents. The poll of 600 likely 2018 voters was conducted May 9-13 by Benenson Strategy Group.
Dialysis is a life-saving procedure that removes a patient’s blood, cleans it, and then puts it back in his or her body. Patients often must go to a clinic three days a week, for three to four hours each time.
The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – made a combined $3.9 billion in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States in 2016. The two corporations charged private insurance companies an average of 350 percent above the actual cost of treatment last year.
DaVita and Fresenius have a near monopoly in the state. According to the Ohio Department of Health, 318 licensed dialysis clinics operate in the state, and DaVita or Fresenius owns 73 percent of them. In 2015, more than 18,000 Ohioans received treatment at dialysis clinics.