Senator Atkins Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings and Treatment

March 7, 2024

SACRAMENTO – Senate President pro Tempore Emeritus Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) has introduced legislation to expand access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, diagnostic services, and treatment for lower income Californians.

“Early detection and timely treatment of breast and cervical cancers are critical to improving health outcomes,” said Pro Tem Emeritus Atkins. “We must continue working to ensure that all Californians can afford cancer screenings and the treatment they need once diagnosed. SB 1213 would allow two state-funded cancer screening and treatment programs with strong track records of improved health outcomes to help more Californians. Making screening and treatment more affordable is an important piece of our work to improve women’s health care and reduce cancer deaths.”

Senate Bill 1213 would increase the eligibility threshold for the Every Woman Counts (EWC) program and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP) from 200% to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. The EWC provides eligible Californians with free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services. The BCCTP provides affordable treatment options to eligible low-income California residents diagnosed with breast and/or cervical cancer. Expanding eligibility for these California Department of Health Care Services programs would remove barriers to more Californians accessing breast and cervical cancer screenings, diagnostic services, and treatment without breaking the bank.

Pro Tem Emeritus Atkins, who served as the director of a women’s health clinic early in her career, has consistently worked on improving access to healthcare for lower income women. In 2018, Senator Atkins secured ongoing budget funding to remove the BCCTP’s time limits on breast and cervical cancer treatment. In 2016, Senator Atkins authored AB 1795, which expanded eligibility for the EWC program and ensured the BCCTP could provide treatment to patients who experience a reoccurrence of cancer, regardless of whether or not it’s breast or cervical cancer.

Senator Atkins has also championed multiple efforts to expand Medi-Cal for more Californians, including providing Medi-Cal for children and young adults up to age 25 regardless of immigration status and raising Medi-Cal’s income eligibility cap for pregnant women.

SB 1213 is sponsored by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

What others are saying about SB 1213:

“We have made great strides in the fight against cancer. Early detection has played a critical role in the continuous decline in cancer mortality. Improvements in prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer have helped avert 4 million fewer deaths in the United States since 1991. However, significant disparities still exist. For example, despite having a lower incidence, Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than White women. Ensuring that more individuals have access to vital breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as follow-up care, will help save lives, address cancer disparities, and reduce the cancer burden for everyone.”

  • Autumn Ogden-Smith, Director of California State Legislation at American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

“Susan G. Komen applauds Senator Atkins’ longstanding support for Every Woman Counts, emphasized by her recent introduction of SB 1213. We are thrilled to work together to make California’s breast and cervical cancer early detection program among the most accessible in the nation. Early detection services are a critical tool in reducing late-stage diagnosis and ultimately breast cancer deaths.”

  • Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen


Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore Emeritus of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Emeritus Toni G. Atkins: