SEIU-UHW Asks Attorney General to Halt Dialysis Industry Steering Scheme

[Aug. 24, 2017] OAKLAND, Calif. – Healthcare workers are urging the California Attorney General’s office to investigate and halt the dialysis industry’s scheme that steers low-income patients into health plans that may limit their ability to receive kidney transplants and access care after a transplant.

The Aug. 24 complaint filed on behalf of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West with the Attorney General’s Office describes the program as an “exceptionally cynical … policy on funding for transplant care [that] reflects the priorities of a program designed not for patient care, but to promote the financial interests of dialysis facilities.” The complaint further alleges that the “steering scheme’s sole purpose is to provide this boon for the dialysis industry; no legitimate purpose is served.”

The scheme is operated by the American Kidney Fund, a non-profit organization backed by the dialysis industry. Approximately 80 percent of the American Kidney Fund’s revenue comes from the two-largest dialysis corporations, DaVita and Fresenius, which made a combined $3.9 billion in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States last year.

Advocates allege the American Kidney Fund’s program violates California Unfair Competition Law and charitable trust law, and is a kickback scheme in violation of federal law. They say the Attorney General must intervene to protect dialysis patients and keep premiums and costs down for all Californians covered by private health insurance.

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