Capitol Alert

Cleanliness, workload at California dialysis clinics up for debate

Dr. Manjula Tamura speaks with Joe Kostmayer as he undergoes dialysis at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., March 10, 2011. A California Senate bill attempts to establish more stringent regulations for dialysis centers in the state.
Dr. Manjula Tamura speaks with Joe Kostmayer as he undergoes dialysis at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., March 10, 2011. A California Senate bill attempts to establish more stringent regulations for dialysis centers in the state. NYT

Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning run-down on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up for it here.

A bill before the Senate Health Committee today attempts to crack down on the more than 550 chronic dialysis clinics in California.

The centers serve roughly 63,000 patients with end-stage kidney failure, according to the state. Patients sit at stations for hours as machines clean and filter the blood back into the body, taking on the role of a healthy kidney.

But health unions, including bill sponsors United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, say there isn’t enough state oversight of the facilities, leading to negative consequences for patients. Workers, who are attempting to unionize, are also pushing for safer working conditions.

The groups say workers at some clinics have little time to properly clean stations between patients and are responsible for too many patients at once. On average, clinics currently are inspected by the state every five to six years.

Senate Bill 349, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would establish sweeping standards for dialysis centers under the Department of Public Health, including staff-to-patient ratios, annual state inspections, penalties for violations and other requirements. The bill also forces centers to give workers at least 45 minutes to prepare stations between patients.

Fresenius Medical Care, which operates 145 centers in the state, is opposed to the bill and says it would create a shortage of care for thousands of patients. The company says the bill would require significant staff increases as the industry struggles with a shortage of nurses and technicians. DaVita, another major dialysis center operator, says the 45-minute transition time between patients and other factors would further reduce treatment availability. The California Hospital Association, California Dialysis Council and more than a dozen other groups also oppose the bill.

The Senate Health Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. in room 4203 of the state Capitol.

WORTH REPEATING: “I now have within my bloodstream a felony waiting to happen.”

– Hussain Turk, a law fellow at the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project, speaking in support of legislation to reduce the intentional transmission of HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor

TOWN HALL: Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is hosting a town hall about issues facing children and families in West Sacramento Wednesday evening. Pan is the author of Senate Bill 18, also known as the Children’s Bill of Rights, to outline research-based standards for health, safety, education, well-being and family support for kids. The senator drew the ire of a vocal and active group of anti-vaccination activists last year, whom his office expects to surface at the town hall, which begins at 5 p.m. at West Sacramento City Hall.

ANDERSON CAUCUS: Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, is taking his anti-Senate Bill 54 campaign on the road, appearing in West Covina today to denounce the measure that prohibits state and local law enforcement from using their resources to assist the federal government with immigration enforcement. The latest version of the bill requires state prisons and county jails to give the FBI a 60-day heads up before releasing undocumented immigrants with violent felony convictions. Anderson will be joined by City of West Covina Mayor Pro Tem Mike Spence and others outside West Covina City Hall at 3 p.m. The senator, who touts the fact that he’s been called a “leading anti-sanctuary voice,” says the measure weakens the Trust Act, existing law that prohibits law enforcement from detaining someone on an immigration hold if they have not been convicted of a serious or violent felony.

TAX CREDITS: A trio of moderate Democrats will lead a news conference today highlighting bills that establish a tax credit for small businesses in low-income neighborhoods and extend the California Competes Tax credit, which is intended to attract or keep companies in the state. Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, Assemblymembers Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton and Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, will lead the discussion of Assembly Bills 1715 and 1716 at 11:30 a.m. on the east lawn of the state Capitol.

MUST READ: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra engaged in a lot of political tough talk about Donald Trump, but has taken a much more measured approach since assuming office in late January, writes The Bee’s Angela Hart.

HOUSING: The California Latino Legislative Caucus is holding a briefing on the housing conditions and challenges in rural and farm worker communities today at 9:30 a.m. in room 115 of the state Capitol. Led by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, the event will feature panel discussions with housing organizations, community groups and other stakeholders to dissect the problem and identify public and private partnerships to help address the housing demands.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Today Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, turns 64 and U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, celebrates his 48th.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna