Ohio kidney dialysis amendment backers have spent $4.1 million so far to get on the ballot

August 1, 2018 GMT

Ohio kidney dialysis amendment backers have spent $4.1 million so far to get on the ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Backers of a proposed measure to decrease kidney dialysis costs have already spent $4.1 million but haven’t yet qualified for the November ballot. 

The Ohioans for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection committee has received more than $4.5 million in contributions and loans this year from the Service Employees International Union and an affiliated union in California, according to a campaign finance report covering the first six months of the year.

The committee spent nearly $3.7 million to companies to print and circulate petitions to collect signatures of registered Ohio voters. It reported having $433,847 on hand as of June 30.

The group submitted more than 475,000 signatures on July 4; 305,591 are needed to qualify for the ballot. After county boards of election validated the signatures, backers came up 9,511 signatures short. They have until Thursday to turn in additional signatures.

The proposed constitutional amendment would cap dialysis costs at 115 percent of what clinics spend on patient care and refund overcharges to the insurer. It would also mandate annual inspections and new sanitation standards. Ohio has an estimated 18,000 regular dialysis patients and 349 state-licensed dialysis clinics. The majority of the clinics are run by Denver-based DaVita and German company Fresenius.  

Opponents of the measure, which include kidney care and medical professional organizations, say it would force clinics in rural and poor areas to close. 

Amendment backers reported receiving $2.5 million in contributions from the SEIU and $2 million in loans from the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West this year. The Ohio campaign has repaid the California union $346,794 as of Wednesday’s report. 

The group has also paid ProgressOhio, a Columbus-based liberal advocacy group, $20,000 for consulting.