Oropeza hopes new bill will protect breast cancer services

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breast-cancer-careThe end of 2009 brought unfortunate news to women across the state.

First, the Preventive Services Task Force sparked a national uproar when it recommended early last month that women at low risk for breast cancer undergo regular mammograms beginning at age 50. The previous recommendation was age 40.

Weeks later, 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, will 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.

Sen. Jenny Oropeza hopes to reverse the backwards trend in breast care with her first bill of the year, SB 836.

“The decision to suspend screening is a slap at California’s low-income women,” Oropeza, D-Long Beach, said after introducing Senate Bill 836. “Those who can least afford help in detecting and fighting this deadly disease are the ones most affected.”

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 make mammograms safer, 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.”

Elected to the 28th Senate District in November 2006, Jenny Oropeza is one of the highest-ranking Latinos in the Legislature and chairs the Senate Majority Caucus.  For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/oropeza.

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