Oropeza’s SB 148 Improves Mammogram Safety

Jan 03, 2010

Senator Oropeza’s SB 148 was signed by the Governor and became law January, 2010. It requires medical providers to post Notices of Violation relating to mammography machine inspections to be placed somewhere that is visible to patients and staff. Such violations may reflect malfunctioning mammography machines or poorly trained or uncertified personnel operating machines and interpreting results.

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Key Senate panel OKs urgency plan to reinstate breast-cancer protections for low-income women

SACRAMENTO – A plan to restore access to free screening and diagnostic services for low-income women through an urgency measure by Sen. Jenny Oropeza passed its first policy review today thanks to a bipartisan vote by the Senate Health Committee.

“The decision to suspend screening can be deadly to California’s low-income women,” Oropeza, D-Long Beach, said after passage of Senate Bill 836. “Those who most need help in detecting and fighting this deadly disease are the ones most affected.”

Oropeza, chair of the Senate Majority Caucus and herself a cancer survivor, introduced SB 836 as her first bill of 2010 after the state last December suspended new enrollments for breast cancer screening services. The suspension took effect Jan. 1, 2010.

As an urgency measure, SB 836 would take effect as soon as it is signed into law.

Supporters representing health and women’s groups urged Senators to pass the bill, including Debra Wright, president and founder of the largest mobile mammography clinic in Los Angeles County.

A national uproar over mammograms came after the Preventive Services Task Force recommended late last year women at low risk for breast cancer undergo regular mammograms beginning at age 50. The previous recommendation was age 40.

Next, the California Department of Public Health announced that the state’s Every Woman Counts program, which provides free clinical breast exams and mammograms to California’s underserved women, would suspend new enrollments for breast cancer screening services Jan. 1 through July 2, 2010. It also changed the eligibility age for breast cancer screening services to 50 and older.

SB 836 would restore access to free screening and diagnostic services to low-income women. It also would require that breast cancer screening services be provided to all individuals exhibiting symptoms, regardless of age, and to individuals 40 and older.

“Early detection has proven to save lives,” said Oropeza, who’s SB 148, making mammograms more effective, took effect Jan. 1. “Because breast cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, it is essential that state policymakers fight to help our most vulnerable communities.”

SB 836 will next be taken up by the full Senate. No date has yet been set.

Senator Oropeza in O Magazine

Oprah Magazine recently highlighted the efforts of Senator Oropeza to ensure that women have access to inspection reports of mammography facilities.

In the article, Senator Oropeza discusses how she came to discover the difficulty women face in asking for inspection reports at some radiological facilities. While at her own mammogram appointment Oropeza describes, “I was curious, so I asked the radiologist for the latest inspection report. I was told it wasn’t available. I knew that they didn’t have to post it, but they did have to tell you. That’s when it hit me: We need to do a lot here.”