SACRAMENTO — The State Assembly passed legislation authored by Assemblymembers Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) and Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) intended to reverse the Schwarzenegger Administration’s elimination of mammograms for 100,000 low-income women under the Every Woman Counts (EWC) program.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1640 passed with a 56-12 vote and moves to the State Senate for further review.
“We sent the governor a message that every woman still counts in California,” said Evans. “We cannot abandon poor women to die from treatable cancer. Poverty should not be a death sentence.”
“We know that early breast cancer detection saves lives-and saves money,” said Nava, author of legislation signed by the governor last year to increase access to digital mammography under Every Women Counts. “It makes no sense to deny women this important health care.”
The Department of Public Health made two eligibility changes to Every Woman Counts starting January 1, 2010:
- the minimum age to receive breast cancer screening services was raised from 40 to 50 years of age; and
- all new enrollment would be frozen for six months.
These two changes will put an estimated 1,000 lives at risk by delaying breast cancer diagnoses.
The administration’s eligibility changes disproportionately affect women from communities of color. From 2003 to 2008, 68.7% of women receiving mammograms through EWC were Hispanic, 15% were Asian-Pacific-Islander, 9% were White, and 2.5% were African American.
Early detection of breast cancer is a key to surviving the disease. When breast cancer is detected early, the 5-year relative survival rate is 98 percent. In addition, studies show that breast cancer treatment costs can more than double if cancer goes undetected and spreads. Costs for treatment can go from about $21,000 to over $52,000.
According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a sponsor of AB 1640, approximately 21,700 women in California will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and more than 4,000 will lose their battle with the disease.
Further information about this legislation is available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.