Dialysis machines at a hospital. Photo by Irvin Calicut via Wikimedia Commons

By Marian Kammann

As a dialysis patient, Proposition 8 is a direct threat to my life and the lives of every dialysis patient in California. This misleading proposition would cause irreparable harm across our state, through clinic closures and reductions in staff that are crucial to our treatment process.

If voted into law, Proposition 8 would set incredibly low limits on what insurance companies must pay towards dialysis patient care. These limits do not even come close to covering the actual cost of dialysis patient care, and dialysis clinics will be left covering the bill. By forcing clinics to cover the remaining costs themselves, clinic closures and reductions to staff and services are a sure outcome.

I know first-hand how important access to treatment and services are for dialysis patients. At the age of 20, my kidneys failed suddenly. I found out then that I had glomerulonephritis and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which often leads to kidney failure. I was lucky enough then to receive a kidney transplant from my sister that lasted nearly 35 years, but sadly over three and a half years ago my kidneys failed once again. I have been back on dialysis ever since.

I continue to work full-time out of sheer necessity. My employment ensures that I have access to insurance that covers my dialysis treatment. Thankfully, I’ve found a clinic that is just 20 minutes from my work. I’m able to leave work at 5 and be at my clinic by 5:30. What would I do if this clinic were to close as a direct result of Proposition 8 passing this November? Any changes to the location of my clinic would mean both my employment and my health would suffer. I’d have to cut my hours or quit my job to accommodate further travel to treatment. Without insurance or a paycheck, I’d have no way to pay for treatment to begin with.

The clinic closures that Proposition 8 will cause will only make accessing clinics even harder for everyone. Many patients are in the same situation I am in — they rely on clinics that are near work or home to ease the travel time to treatment three times a week. For patients that already have trouble finding transportation to and from treatment, a clinic closure is life threatening.

On top of this, the reduction in staff and loss of resources at clinics that Proposition 8 would cause would be devastating. Every staff member in a dialysis clinic plays a specific role that is crucial to the treatment process. We rely on all of these people — dieticians to understand how your diet must change, social workers and insurance coordinators to understand the paperwork involved in treatment, and nurse clinical coordinators to assist staff with our treatment. These people all play a vital role in the treatment process that keeps millions of people alive each day.

My dialysis clinic is a safe haven. A place where I receive the treatment that keeps me alive from people who I’ve grown to love and appreciate. I’ve built strong relationships with everyone in my clinic over the past three years, building a bond that makes the painful treatment I receive more bearable. We joke around, laugh and try to bring comfort to an uncomfortable situation. We rely on these people for much more than their medical expertise.

There are many reasons to vote no on this proposition, chief among them being the health and well-being of the thousands of dialysis patients that that Proposition 8 threatens. If you value the lives of others and would never wish to cause another person harm or hardship, you will not support this bill. Vote NO on Prop 8.

Marian Kammann is a dialysis patient who lives in La Mesa.

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