August 31, 2022
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Letisia Marquez
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lemarquez@coh.org

California Cancer Coalition Celebrates State Legislature’s Passage of Landmark Cancer Care Access Bill, Urges Governor Newsom to Sign

Both chambers of California legislature unanimously pass the California Cancer Care Equity Act (SB 987)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Cancer Care Is Different (CCID) Coalition today applauds the California State Legislature for passing the California Cancer Care Equity Act (SB 987), a bill that would expand access to specialized cancer care for Medi-Cal patients who receive a complex cancer diagnosis. The 40-0 concurrence vote follows unanimous passage by the California Senate in May and the Assembly in August. SB 987 represents a critical first step in delivering on the promise of the Cancer Patient Bill of Rights resolution adopted by the California legislature in 2021.

The California Cancer Care Equity Act (CCCEA) now heads to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature, which would help the most vulnerable populations of California seek optimal cancer care services more easily, such as genomic testing, precision medicine-based care, subspecialty expertise and clinical trials. 

“We applaud the State Legislature for passing the California Cancer Care Equity Act, a significant step toward reducing health outcome disparities and fixing how we deliver innovation to patients in need,” said Robert Stone, President and CEO of City of Hope and the Helen and Morgan Chu Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair. “We hope Governor Newsom will support this effort to connect more Californians, particularly those from historically disadvantaged communities, to the cancer care that gives them the best shot at survival. This bill provides a strong example to the rest of the nation on how we can expand access to optimal cancer care and we urge him to sign this important reform into law.” 

If SB 987 becomes law, it would help remove barriers that prevent access to leading-edge care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries — who represent approximately one-third of California’s population. At present, patients on Medi-Cal experience less favorable five-year survival rates for several cancer types compared to patients on private insurance. Notably, African Americans and Hispanics have the highest rates of Medi-Cal enrollment in California at 44.3% and 44.9%, respectively.

“Over the past decade we’ve seen incredible innovation in cancer treatments, but our current delivery system isn’t built to get these latest innovations to patients equitably or quickly. It’s long past time to fix this,” said the bill’s author, Senator Anthony Portantino (SD-25). “With the support of the Legislature, we are now one signature away from this bill becoming law, and one step closer to making access to leading-edge treatments for Medi-Cal patients a reality.”

In 2022, an estimated 189,000 Californians will receive a cancer diagnosis from their physician. In an age when new treatments like CAR T cell therapies are improving health outcomes while demonstrating cost-effectiveness, legislation like the CCCEA has the potential to reduce system inefficiencies and drive higher-value care in the long term, simultaneously helping to save the lives of Californians and increasing access to the kind of cancer care any Californian would demand for a loved one fighting cancer.

The Cancer Care Is Different coalition is driven by the belief that the best chance of a cure for a patient is the first chance at a cure: Cancer outcomes uniquely rely on the accuracy and speed of initial diagnosis, choice of therapy and access to appropriate clinical trials. SB 987 is one major step that gives us hope that more Californians will be able to access the care that gives each the best chance to beat cancer, regardless of their insurance or zip code.

“The California Cancer Care Equity Act is a key step in providing equitable cancer care for underserved patients in California, and we commend the legislature for passing it,” said Molly Guthrie, vice president of Public Policy & Advocacy for Susan G. Komen. “On behalf of the more than 31,720 women in California expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone, we now urge Gov. Newsom to sign this bill into law as soon as it lands on his desk and help deliver high-quality treatment and care to patients regardless of their insurance status.” 

“The California Cancer Care Equity Act would help address systemic barriers that contribute to worse health outcomes for minorities,” said Ysabel Duron, Founder and Executive Director for The Latino Cancer Institute. “Hispanics have one of the highest rates of enrollment in Medi-Cal, yet Medi-Cal beneficiaries experience worse outcomes for several cancer types compared to patients with commercial insurance. All cancer patients — regardless of race, insurance status or zip code — deserve access to optimal care, and we urge the governor to sign this bill without delay.” 

“Black people are more likely to die from most cancers and live the shortest time after diagnoses compared to any other racial group. This is in part due to systemic barriers that make it harder for historically disadvantaged communities from accessing the cancer care that gives them the best chance at survival,” said Meron Agonafer, Policy and Legislative Manager at the California Black Health Network. “The California Cancer Care Equity act is a crucial step toward addressing those inequities and we urge Gov. Newsom sign this bill as soon as it lands on his desk.” 

About Cancer Care Is Different

Cancer Care Is Different is a coalition-based campaign effort focused on raising awareness of the need to improve cancer care delivery in California. Partners in this effort include City of Hope, Cedars-Sinai, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Susan G. Komen, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match, California Chronic Care Coalition, North Bay Cancer Alliance, Lazarex Cancer Foundation, Triage Cancer, The Latino Cancer Institute, California Black Health Network and Stanford Health Care.

The CCID Coalition’s statement announcing support for the bill can be found here. For more information on CCID, visit CancerCareDiff.org.

About City of Hope

City of Hope’s mission is to deliver the cures of tomorrow to the people who need them today. Founded in 1913, City of Hope has grown into one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S. and one of the leading research centers for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. As an independent, National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, City of Hope brings a uniquely integrated model to patients, spanning cancer care, research and development, academics and training, and innovation initiatives. Research and technology developed at City of Hope has been the basis for numerous breakthrough cancer medicines, as well as human synthetic insulin and monoclonal antibodies. A leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy, such as CAR T cell therapy, City of Hope’s personalized treatment protocols help advance cancer care throughout the world.

With a goal of expanding access to the latest discoveries and leading-edge care to more patients, families and communities, City of Hope’s growing national system includes its main Los Angeles campus, a network of clinical care locations across Southern California, a new cancer center in Orange County, California, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. City of Hope’s affiliated family of organizations includes Translational Genomics Research Institute and AccessHopeTM. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram and LinkedIn.

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