The California bill that would set minimum staffing requirements and other regulations for dialysis clinics has been tabled.

“To give this process time to develop, I will not seek a vote in the assembly before the end of session and will bring SB 349 up for consideration when the legislature reconvenes later this year after we have conducted stakeholder meetings,” said Senator Ricardo Lara, who introduced the bill in March. “I will invite industry, workers’ groups, patient groups, advocates and the administration to work together in the coming months to find common ground that protects patient safety and increases oversight.”

Lara said reports from dialysis workers indicate the bill had spurred them to implement their own lower patient ratios and minimum transition times between dialysis patients. “But self-policing alone is not enough and will continue to put patient safety at risk.”

“This legislation has successfully raised awareness of the disturbing patient care problems in dialysis clinics that the industry claimed were not happening, and we are eager to have productive discussions to find solutions that improve patient care for the 66,000 Californians who need dialysis to survive,” said  SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West President Dave Regan. The union has been instrumental in creating and promoting the bill. “If the discussions are not productive, we will ask California voters to stand up for dialysis patients through a statewide ballot initiative planned for the November 2018 election.”

“We are grateful that legislators heard the concerns of thousands of California doctors, nurses, dialysis caregivers, patients, local clinics and many others who contacted their legislators to warn that SB 349 would be dangerous for dialysis patients and costly for Medi-Cal,” said Mark Shapiro, MD, a San Diego nephrologist who testified against the bill in the Assembly Health Committee. “SB 349 would have reduced access to dialysis at a time when we should be doing everything we can to increase access to life-saving treatment.”