Phoenix, Ariz. – American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers from across Arizona rallied at the State Capitol Monday to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would ensure biomarker testing is covered by more insurance plans, including Medicaid, when patients need it. Biomarker testing is critical in accessing precision medicine, including targeted therapies that can lead to improved survivorship and better quality of life for cancer patients.
Dubbed 'the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time,' precision medicine has played a critical role in improving cancer outcomes. For example, patients with certain lung cancer types who received biomarker testing and targeted therapy had a 34% reduction in mortality. But to determine if a patient will benefit from certain targeted therapies, doctors must test for specific biomarkers – such as gene mutations – found in blood, tissues or other biospecimens.
"Biomarker testing and precision medicine are helping extend and save lives by tailoring care and treatment to a person’s individual condition. This legislation will help dismantle cost barriers and bring the promise of precision medicine to more cancer patients no matter their income, race or where they live," said Brian Hummell, ACS CAN Arizona government relations director.
Communities that have been marginalized including communities of color, individuals with limited income, rural residents and patients receiving care in non-academic medical centers are less likely to receive biomarker testing. Improving coverage for and access to biomarker testing across insurance types is key to reducing health disparities.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 2144, which aims to enable more Arizonans to benefit from biomarker testing. The proposal now awaits the Senate’s vote.
"We thank the House for approving this lifesaving legislation and urge the Senate to follow suit in taking action to expand coverage and access to biomarker testing. This is a critical step towards reducing health inequities and improving cancer outcomes," said Melissa Norred, ACS CAN state lead ambassador.
Additionally, the group advocated to pass comprehensive tobacco control legislation that defines all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, as tobacco; implement a tobacco retail license with real fees, fines and penalties; and preserve funding for the Well Woman Health Check Program, which provides lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment to limited-income, uninsured and underinsured women. Preserving funding for this program is critical to detecting and treating cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more effective and less expensive.
Every year, cancer patients, survivors and advocates meet with their lawmakers as part of Arizona Cancer Action Day to make fighting cancer a legislative priority. Roughly 40,000 Arizonans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. For more information on how ACS CAN is advocating for cancer patients and survivors on the local, state and federal levels or to learn more about how to get involved with our advocacy efforts visit FightCancer.org/AZ.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.