California dialysis measure fails, mixed results for tobacco taxes in state-level ballot measures

The 2020 election will not just decide who occupies the White House and lead Congress. There are several major ballot initiatives that voters weighed across the country.

Here were the top ballot measures we had our eye on:

California initiative to change dialysis clinic regulations fails

California voters resoundingly rejected a measure to require dialysis clinics to have an on-site physician as patients are treated.

The ballot measure lost with 64% voting against it with nearly 70% of the votes being tallied. 

The rejection was a major win for provider groups that have been fighting the measure, which would have required clinics in the state to report data on any dialysis-related infections and get consent from the state health department before closing.

The initiative would also prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on the source of payment for care.

Provider groups such as the American Nurses Association of California and California Medical Association opposed the measure. Major dialysis providers Fresenius and DaVita also heavily fought it.

An advocacy group called “No on Prop 23” argue the measure will jeopardize access to dialysis and that clinics will have to close because they cannot meet the requirements.

Another group advocating for the measure say that dialysis companies make billions of dollars but don’t invest enough to improve patient care.

The major healthcare workers union Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West backed the measure.

California stem cell research bond has narrow lead

A proposition weighing a $5.5 billion bond that would fund the state’s stem cell efforts has a narrow lead.

With about 11.3 million votes counted on Wednesday morning, the measure was ahead 51% to 49%.

If approved by voters, the bond money would go to the state-run California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to fund grants and clinical trials on the use of stem cells. A separate ballot measure in 2004 created the center.

The center would have to use $1.5 billion of the funding to research therapies for brain and nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Measures in Colorado, Oklahoma and Oregon to use tobacco taxes to fund health programs, to mixed results

State ballot measures to direct taxes from tobacco — and in some states, create new taxes on e-cigarettes — towards various healthcare programs came in with mixed results.

Colorado is projected to pass its ballot initiative with 68% in favor of the measure with 85% of the votes tallied. The measure will increase existing cigarette taxes and a new tax on e-cigarettes and similar products. A portion of the money will go to a state fund for Medicaid, children’s healthcare and primary care programs. The state has not listed a specific amount, according to a legislative analysis.

Oklahoma voters resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that decreases the percentage of money from 75% to 25% that is deposited from tobacco taxes into an endowment trust. It would instead direct that money into the state’s Medicaid program.

The state rejected the measure with 59% against it with all precincts reporting in. 

And in Oregon, the state is on track to pass a measure to increase the cigarette tax from $1.33 per pack to $3.33 a pack, with revenues going to the Oregon Health Authority for medical and health programs.

The state's voters approved the measure with 67% in favor with 81% of votes in on Wednesday morning, according to the Associated Press. 

Colorado measure on new state enterprises winning by slim margin

A new amendment that would give voters more power to approve of new state enterprises, which are government-owned businesses that provide services for a fee or surcharge, is winning by a slim margin.

The amendment — which received requires voter approval for any new state enterprises funded by fees that have a revenue of $100 million or more in the first five years of operation. The measure has major support from anti-tax groups. As of Wednesday morning with 85% of the vote in, 52% of voters backed the measure.

The ballot measure has gotten opposition from some healthcare provider groups. The advocacy group Colorado Consumer Health Initiative said that the ballot measure could imperil the Hospital Provider Fee, which helps fund rural hospitals and Medicaid coverage.

The group said that the money from that fee could be subject to the requirements created under the ballot measure.

“Providers worry increased uncertainty caused by the initiative threatens Colorado’s ability to fully provide and fund public health services at a time when just this week Colorado reported a record number of positive COVID-19 cases,” the group said in a release last week.