OAKLAND, Calif. – Supporters of California’s Prop. 8 ballot initiative launched television ads across the state this week highlighting dialysis corporations’ rip-off of consumers and patients with kidney failure.

“One-hundred fifty thousand dollars a year – that’s how much big dialysis corporations charge some patients each year – a 350 percent markup above the cost of care,” says the ad’s narrator, dialysis nurse Megallan Handford of Corona, Calif. “Dialysis corporations are making a killing – driving up insurance rates while patients report bloodstains and cockroaches in their clinics.”

Supporters are spending $11.3 million to air the 30-second spot on 33 channels throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego.

Opponents of Prop. 8 have committed $72.7 million to defeat the initiative, according to campaign finance reports. The total comes entirely from dialysis companies and is led by the industry’s two largest corporations, DaVita and Fresenius, which contributed $40.8 million and $23.1 million, respectively.

“No matter how much the opposition spends to scare the public, I know how bad the clinics are and I’m hopeful California voters will see through the smoke and hold dialysis corporations accountable,” said Tangi Foster, a 10-year dialysis patient from Los Angeles, who appears in the ad. “If the dialysis companies truly cared about their patients, they would have spent all that money on improving patient care rather than trying to buy off voters.”

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.

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. The two companies own and operate 72 percent of all dialysis clinics in the state.

People with kidney failure often must undergo dialysis treatment three days a week at clinics to remove their blood, clean it, and put it back in their bodies. Each treatment lasts three to four hours.