California Assembly Committee Passes Legislation Requiring More Insurance Plans Cover Biomarker Testing Needed for Many Innovative Cancer Treatments

Cancer advocates call for legislators to ensure more patients can access testing to identify to the most effective treatments, leading to better survival, better quality of life

June 21, 2022

Sacramento, Calif. – June 21, 2022 – The California Assembly Health Committee passed a bill today that would ensure comprehensive biomarker testing is covered by more insurance plans, including Medi-Cal, when supported by medical and scientific evidence.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 912 will enable more Californians to benefit from biomarker testing, a critical step in accessing precision medicine treatments that can lead to fewer side effects, improved survival, better quality of life and potentially lower costs for some cancer patients. But to determine if a patient will benefit from certain targeted therapies, doctors must test for specific biomarkers – such as gene mutations – which can be measured in blood, tissue or other biospecimens.

“Despite its benefits and increasingly important role in cancer care and improving cancer outcomes, 66% of oncology providers reported that insurance coverage is a significant or moderate barrier to appropriate biomarker testing for their patients,” said Autumn J. Ogden-Smith, California Legislative Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “It’s imperative we dismantle cost barriers in order to address and help reduce health disparities.”

Communities that have been under-resourced, including communities of color, individuals with limited income, rural residents and patients receiving care in non-academic medical centers are less likely to receive recommended biomarker testing.

“The advances in cancer treatment that have come from being able to tailor approaches to a person’s individual condition are critical for winning the fight against cancer. This legislation will bring the hope and promise of precision medicine to people with a cancer diagnosis across the state on an equitable basis,” said Carrie L. Byington, M.D., executive vice president of University of California Health. “California has the opportunity to be among the leaders in the nation with this legislation.”

ACS CAN and the University of California (UC) teamed up to sponsor SB 912 to help ensure more patients have access to precision medicine. The UC system is a leader in cancer care through the UC Cancer Consortium which comprises five of the nation's 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

For more information on precision medicine, cancer biomarkers, current barriers to biomarker testing and ACS CAN’s policy recommendations, visit: