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California Bill to Improve Precision Cancer Care Access for Medi-Cal Patients Sails Through Senate

NEW YORK – The California State Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed the California Cancer Care Equity Act (SB 987), a bill that seeks to remove barriers to specialized cancer care, including precision medicine, for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. 

Legislators advanced SB 987 to address disparities in access to cutting-edge care, such as genomic testing, molecularly informed precision medicine, subspecialty expertise, and clinical trials. Currently, Medi-Cal recipients who want to see a doctor at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center have to go out of network. The bill, if ultimately passed, would ensure that Medi-Cal patients with complex tumor types, such as advanced lung, prostate and breast, relapsed or refractory colon, and pancreatic cancers, receive information about their diagnosis and treatment options and have access to an NCI-CCC. 

"The California Cancer Care Equity Act, if passed, will be a major milestone in improving access to care and reducing disparities in cancer outcomes," Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-25th District, the bill's author, said in a statement. "We've seen incredible innovation in cancer treatments over the past decade, and it is vital that we take a close look at how we deliver innovations in care to equitably reach patients." 

After passage in the Senate with a 34-to-0 vote, the bill is now headed to the Assembly, where it is expected to be heard by the Assembly Health Committee in June.