LOS ANGELES – Two of California’s largest health insurance companies recently confirmed to the City of Los Angeles retirement system that passage of Prop. 8 will not disrupt dialysis patients’ access to care, directly undercutting the central argument in the dialysis industry’s record barrage of television ads and mailings.

“Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross have confirmed that the entire basis of the dialysis industry’s vote ‘no’ campaign is nothing more than groundless fear-mongering,” said Lorraine Lewis, a patient who lives in Los Angeles. “This is an industry that’s willing to blatantly lie to protect the billions in profits they haul in every year at the expense of patients like me.”

Both Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross said they do not believe Prop. 8 will impact access to dialysis treatment for the patients they cover, according to a document made public by the Los Angeles City Employee’s Retirement System, which provides retirement benefits to 41,500 employees, retirees and their beneficiaries. The information was shared during a presentation at the retirement system’s Oct. 23 board meeting.

Campaign finance reports indicate Prop. 8 opponents – led by the two largest dialysis corporations, DaVita and Fresenius – have committed more than $111 million to defeat the initiative. The figure makes it the most spent to oppose a ballot initiative in United States history, surpassing the previous record of $110 million set by the pharmaceutical industry when it opposed California’s Prop. 61 in 2016.

Despite the massive spending – the dialysis industry is outspending the “Yes on Prop. 8” side by more than five to one – recent polling shows the race is still a statistical tie.

“What do the two most expensive ballot campaigns in California history have in common? They both were about protecting the outlandish profits of giant corporations,” said Lewis.

Prop. 8 limits dialysis corporations’ revenues to 15 percent above the amount they spend on patient care and pushes them to invest more in hiring additional staff, buying new equipment, and improving facilities. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates 80,000 Californians with life-threatening kidney failure get treatment in dialysis clinics.

The two largest dialysis corporations in California, DaVita and Fresenius, made a combined
$4 billion in profits from their U.S. dialysis operations in 2017, and the profit margin of their clinics is nearly five times higher than an average hospital in California.