During National Public Health Week, Senator Atkins’ Legislation to Expand Access to Health Care Passes Senate Health Committee

April 3, 2024

SACRAMENTO – Today, Senate Bill 1213 and Senate Bill 1428 passed out of the Senate Health Committee. The bills, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Emeritus Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), expand access to important breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment programs, and extend special enrollment periods for health insurance for people with qualifying life events. SB 1213 and SB 1428 both passed on a 10-0 vote.

“I am pleased these two common sense healthcare measures passed the Senate Health Committee with such strong bipartisan support,” said Pro Tem Emeritus Atkins. “Expanding access to early detection and timely treatment of breast and cervical cancers is critical to improving health outcomes. And ensuring consumers have the same special enrollment periods inside and outside of the Covered California Health Exchange will prevent gaps in coverage. These two measures will help Californians get the healthcare services they need.”

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% of the Federal Poverty Level ($30,120 for an individual) to 300% ($45,180 for an individual). 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.

Senate Bill 1428 would ensure that individuals with certain qualifying life events have a special enrollment period that starts 60 days before the qualifying event and ends 60 days after. Currently, Covered California Health Exchange allows individuals to sign up for health insurance 60 days before most qualifying events and 60 days after. This bill codifies that practice. However, consumers looking to purchase insurance outside of the Exchange only have 60 days following the qualifying event. This measure updates current law to make special enrollment periods the same inside and outside the Exchange.

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 health care. 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 and SB 1428 now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.


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: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins