Thursday, 05 August 2021

Aguiar-Curry pushes bill to expand cancer prevention and add HPV treatment to state family planning program

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) on Tuesday introduced Assembly Bill 1965 to require that the State Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment Program, or Family PACT, cover the costs of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine.

The California Family PACT Program provides comprehensive family planning services to approximately 1.1 million low-income residents through a network of over 2,200 public and private providers.

Services provided include comprehensive education, assistance, and health services related to family planning for both men and women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 14 million Americans become infected with HPV each year.

While some HPV infections will go away on their own, infections that don’t go away can cause certain types of cancer. In fact, HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer, which is one of the most preventable cancers.

There is no cure for HPV, but a vaccine exists to protect against infection from the start. Since the vaccination has been in use, HPV infections and cervical pre-cancers have dropped significantly.

The CDC says as many as 93 percent of cervical cancers could be avoided simply by screening and receiving the HPV vaccine.

AB 1965 would require that the Family PACT program include the HPV vaccine within its covered health services.

As a common, but preventable, disease which infects both males and females, it’s critical to take every possible precaution to prevent the spread of HPV. The federal government has approved the use of these funds for this purpose. In California, Aguiar-Curry said the state isn’t exercising this authority to take full advantage of our federal funding, forcing patients to pay out-of-pocket or forego such care.

“We have a proven cancer-prevention treatment available to Californians,” said Aguiar-Curry. “What’s more, it’ll be paid for by drawing down federal health care funding. If we let another year go by without offering access to critical HPV and cancer prevention coverage in Family PACT, more young people will contract HPV, meaning more young people may get cancer.”

Family PACT targets low-income, uninsured Californians for essential health services. The program includes family planning counselling, screening, testing and treatment. HPV- prevention treatments are consistent with the intent of the program and its intended health outcomes.

Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry continued, “Cervical cancer screenings are standard reproductive health care, and your access to reproductive health, cancer screening, and prevention shouldn’t be restricted. California’s health advocates agree, requiring this coverage in Family PACT will save lives. We must act now.”

Key partners on this legislation -- Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, the California Medical Association, and Essential Access Health – also weighed in:

"Access to critical care like cancer prevention measures and screenings shouldn’t be dictated by who you are, where you live, or what type of insurance coverage you have. Cervical cancer prevention and screenings are part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care, and reproductive health care shouldn’t be treated any differently from all health care," said Jodi Hicks, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. "We thank Assembylember Aguiar-Curry for recognizing the importance of the HPV vaccine and are proud to stand with her and the other supporters of this bill to expand insurance coverage for it."

“We are proud to support Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry in taking this important step to prevent the spread of this common but preventable cancer-causing infection,” said Shannon Udovic-Constant, M.D., Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the California Medical Association.

“The HPV vaccine can help prevent many forms of cancer, but remains out of reach for far too many across the state,” said Julie Rabinovitz, President and CEO of Essential Access Health. “Thanks to Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry’s leadership, we have an opportunity to ensure that all Californians can access this safe and effective vaccine – regardless of their income, health insurance, or immigration status."

Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.

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