Bill to restore mammograms for low-income Californians passes first review

share this:

sb836 california mammogram billA plan to restore access to free breast cancer screening and diagnostic services for low-income women passed its first policy review this week with a bipartisan vote by the Senate Health Committee. SB 836 is an urgency measure introduced earlier this year by California Sen. Jenny Oropeza.

“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 breast cancer screening and diagnostic services such as mammograms 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. For more, visit

Comments are closed.