A $3.5 million national media campaign funded by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West launched on Feb. 5, featuring ads on national cable networks, consumer health websites, social media and in newspapers.

The ads indicated that the dialysis industry faces problems, including understaffing, unsanitary conditions and overcharging patients, according to the SEIU-UHW. The ads, which will appear in Washington, D.C., California, Colorado and Massachusetts, highlight the practices of the dial-ysis providers DaVita Kidney Care and Fresenius Medical Care North America, the union said in a press release.

The Patients and Caregivers to Protect Dialysis Patients – an advocacy group primarily funded by dialysis providers – has labelled the campaign as “deceptive and dangerous.”

“The UHW has a long history of abusing the legislative and ballot initiative process, using pa-tients as pawns in effort to further its self-interested, union organizing objectives,” the group said in a statement. Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said, “UHW’s attacks in these ads are both unfounded and untrue. Today California’s dialysis clinics rank among the highest in the nation for quality of care and patient satisfaction, according to CMS. And patient outcomes continue to improve. The two most important clinical metrics for individuals on dialysis – hospitalizations and mortality – have both improved over the past 10 years…” – by NN&I Staff