SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Elections are just around the corner, and Proposition 8 is gathering a significant amount of attention.
The ballot initiative is calling for dialysis clinics to put money earned above a certain amount toward healthcare improvements in clinics, and ensuring clinics have enough staff.
Right now, Da Vita and Fresenius operate about three-quarters of dialysis clinics in the State. You can find Walter Chandler at a Da Vita dialysis center three days a week, four hours at a time.
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“It’s basically a true lifesaver, it’s definitely changed my life,” said Walter Chandler. “I’m here early today, hoping I can get in and go home early.”
Chandler began receiving dialysis in 2016 and says it’s his only option for survival.
“If Prop. 8 passes I’m definitely gonna have to pack up and move somewhere else because I can’t afford to gamble with my life,” he added.
Chandler is one of about 80,000 patients in California receiving dialysis.
Proposition 8 opponents claim dialysis patients like him would lose access to treatments and end up in the emergency room. They say Prop 8 would allow insurance companies to pay less for a patient’s dialysis treatments.
“If you can’t cover your costs, you have to cut back services and eventually the fear, of course, is dialysis clinics in California will shut down,” said Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman for the No on Prop 8 campaign.
But supporters say that’s just a scare tactic.
“What we would see though is funds from those profits being invested back in patient care,” said Steve Smith with the California Labor Federation.
He says Prop. 8 would force for-profit dialysis centers like Da Vita and Fresenius to pass down a portion of their profits to improve patient care.
“We are seeing horrific conditions in some of the clinics including things like cockroaches being infested, unsanitary conditions, blood stains,” Smith listed.
Either way, Chandler says he feels his time is running out.
“If Prop. 8 passes, you are basically signing a death sentence for a lot of us, I’m sorry,” Chandler said tearfully.
The coalition heading the “No on 8” campaign says it doesn’t have a backup plan if Prop 8 passes.