California Wins Award for Advocacy

Chris Tannous from Komen Orange County (third from the right) is there as the California Collation is honored for advocacy.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure® awarded its seven California Affiliates with the “State Policy of the Year Award” for their advocacy to ensure access to breast cancer screening and treatment in the face of significant state budget cuts.

The “State Policy Campaign of the Year Award” is presented to a Komen Affiliate or Affiliates who advanced breast health issues and brought positive changes through their public policy initiatives at the state level. The seven Komen California Affiliates formed the California Affiliate Collaborative to work with one voice on breast cancer issues in California.

In 2009, the group supported three bills to expand access to breast health services for underserved women in California. The group protested cuts to “Every Woman Counts,” California’s program to provide free mammography screenings for uninsured and underinsured women who do not qualify for Medicaid, including the elimination of eligibility for women age 40-49. Together, the seven Affiliates have been a vital voice for Komen and women in need across the state.

Chris Tannous, president of the Board of Directors for Komen Orange County, was in Dallas for the award presentation.

The members of the California Affiliate Collaborative, in addition to Komen Orange County, are: Komen Central Valley Affiliate in Fresno, Komen Inland Empire Affiliate in Temecula, Komen Los Angeles County Affiliate, Komen Sacramento Valley Affiliate, Komen San Diego Affiliate and Komen San Francisco Bay Affiliate.

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Good News from Sacramento

There was a bit of good news for the state of California’s breast cancer screening program, Every Woman Counts. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved an audit of the program at the request of Assembly members Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) and Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), who are challenging the state’s elimination of mammograms for low-income women.

The Every Woman Counts program, which provides mammograms to 350,000 underserved women in California each year, was closed to new entrants January 1, 2010, and will not start screening women again until July. And when the program resumes, services will be denied for women age 40 to 49 — only women age 50 and above will be eligible.

Evans and Nava seek the audit in time for incorporation into the 2010-2011 state budget. The audit will review how Every Woman Counts has faced financial shortfalls and assess how the program uses the money it receives.

The good news comes right after Lobby Day on February 8th in Sacramento. There was a lot of pink for Lobby Day as breast health advocates and survivors took their message to state lawmakers. The Komen Orange County Affiliate was represented, as all the California Komen Affiliates worked together as the California Collaborative to raise a strong voice on behalf of the Every Woman Counts Program. You can follow public policy issues with Susan G. Komen for the Cure at www.komenadvocacy.org/

Send a Letter Today

Are these tough economic times? Yes, especially here in California and there is a direct consequence for women’s breast health. The “Every Woman Counts” program, which provides mammograms to 350,000 underserved women in California each year, was closed to new entrants January 1, 2010, and will not start screening women again until July. And when the program resumes, services will be denied for women age 40 to 49 — only women age 50 and above will be eligible.

“Every Woman Counts” is a joint program of the state Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

The seven California affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure have banded together as the California Collaborative and agree that the situation is not acceptable. “We fully understand the tough economic situation our elected leaders face and the difficult choices they must make. Yet balancing the budget on the backs of our state’s neediest women is a mistake,” said Donna Sanderson, the Executive Director of the Komen Sacramento Affiliate and spokesperson for the California Collaborative.

You can help by sending a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about the importance of breast health screenings for all women. Information and a letter template can be found at http://www.komenadvocacy.org/statelocalactions.aspx?id=90 Your time and support will send a loud message that every woman should count, even in tough economic times.