State Sen. Toni Atkins speaks at a health care town hall. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Low-income and uninsured women receiving treatment for breast and cervical cancer may no longer face limits on how long they receive treatment.

State Sen. Toni Atkins this week introduced legislation that would remove caps on the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program, which serves eligible, low-income patients. The program caps treatment for breast cancer at 18 months and treatment for cervical cancer at 24 months. SB 945 would remove those caps and allow the program to continue treatment for as long as medically necessary.


“Cancer does not affect everyone the same way,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Treatment time can vary dramatically from patient to patient. There is no good reason to stop providing care while someone is still in need of it.”

Limited access to care and time limits have been among the barriers to breast cancer care in California, according to a 2017 report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The report also noted “the marked disparities in treatment” for patients across the state, largely due to economic and cultural differences and unequal access to care.

The report also found that women covered by private insurers had the best survival rates compared to those enrolled in public programs and the uninsured.

More Training to Detect Human Trafficking

Atkins also introduced a bill this week that would require hotels and motels to train their employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking and report those signs to law enforcement.

“We know that when people can spot the telltale signs of human trafficking, we get results. We’ve seen it on airplanes and in ride-sharing services,” Atkins said in a statement. “These crimes often play out in hotels and motels. If we can mobilize workers in the lodging industry, we can save untold numbers of vulnerable women and girls from slavery and long-lasting trauma.”

San Diego is on the FBI’s list of top cities for sex trafficking.

Whistleblower Bill Wins Senate Approval

The California Senate unanimously approved Thursday AB 403, which would extend whistleblower protections to legislative employees who want to report harassment and other illegal activity.

California Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates, who represents portions of Orange and San Diego counties, voted in favor of the bill first introduced by Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore.

“No one should ever have to sacrifice their livelihoods for courageously reporting sexual harassment and other wrongdoing, and I hope this bill will be signed into law this year,” Bates said in a statement.

The decision comes after a series of harassment allegations have roiled the Capitol in recent months.

The Assembly is scheduled to take a final vote on the bill Monday.

Bates Leads Housing Discussion

Bates also hosted a discussion about the state’s housing crisis in Carlsbad on Jan. 26.

Residents, realtors and housing experts were among those who gathered to talk about the effects of the housing crisis on residents as well as how to improve affordability.

Bates said she plans to use the feedback and ideas toward developing some legislative solutions.

And Finally…

California’s Democratic candidates for governor will debate in San Diego on Feb. 22. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, and State Treasurer John Chiang are scheduled to appear.

The debate kicks off the California Democratic Party Convention, which runs Feb. 23-25 at the Convention Center. Party delegates will vote on endorsing candidates in the governor’s race.

The California Republican Party is expected to hold its convention May 4-6, also in San Diego.

Golden State News

Drought looms as state’s weather turns dry again.(Sacramento Bee)

A look at the country’s biggest farmer in California’s Central Valley. (The California Sunday Magazine)

Insurance claims from last year’s wildfires have reached nearly $12 billion, the most expensive series of wildfires in state history. (Associated Press)

San Diego State picks its first woman, Adela de la Torre, a Latina scholar, as president. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Cal State leaders say another tuition increase is possible. (Los Angeles Times)

Could Sen. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti face off in 2020? If so, California Democrats face a dilemma that could reverberate nationwide. (Politico)

Marisa Agha is a journalist based in Southern California.

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