Cancer Survivors Rally for New Yorkers’ Access to Precision Medicine, Urge Governor Hochul to Sign Biomarker Testing Bill

November 8, 2023

BUFFALO, NY – November 8, 2023 – Earlier today, cancer survivors gathered at Buffalo’s City Hall alongside health care providers and patient advocates to emphasize the importance of biomarker testing for the health of New York State, its people and its potential for an equitable, hope-filled future. Attendees of the rally called on Governor Hochul to sign Senate Bill 1196a / Assembly Bill 1673a and reject any attempts to weaken the bill by limiting its scope.

Senate Bill 1196a / Assembly Bill 1673a seeks to ensure comprehensive biomarker testing is covered by all state-regulated health plans, including Medicaid, when medically appropriate. The bill passed the Legislature in June with support from over 65 patient and provider groups.

The only thing that is standing between New Yorkers and the care they deserve is Governor Hochul’s signature of Senate Bill 1196a / Assembly Bill 1673a,” said Dylyn Harrison, a Buffalo-area volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), during the rally.

Biomarker testing has become a game-changing part of cancer care given its role in opening the door to targeted treatments that can lead to improved survivorship and quality of life. 

“We have the tools today to do effective biomarker testing, and we know that cancer therapies associated with biomarker testing are markedly more effective than other treatments,” said Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Chair of Pathology Carl Morrison, MD, DVM. “These 21st-century tools can make a significant difference in a patient’s treatment outcome and their quality of life, and access to them should be fair and equitable.”

Without biomarker testing, Williamsville’s Kenneth Schlosser might not have, on his latest scan, been confirmed to have no evidence of active disease after receiving targeted treatment for his stage IV lung cancer diagnosis in March of 2019.

“I am able to live a full, active life because of biomarker testing. It enabled me to receive the right treatment at the right time, which included a targeted therapy and no chemotherapy. Every New Yorker with cancer should be able to access such personalized, effective care. From one Buffalonian to another, I urge Governor Hochul to act to prioritize all New York State patients and improve access to biomarker testing today," said Schlosser during this afternoon’s rally.

Similarly, Joseph Cantafio of West Seneca believes biomarker testing is a major part of why he is still alive today.

In his remarks this afternoon, Cantafio said, “Thanks to my incredible medical team and doctor, biomarker testing and the advancements in treatment, I stand here today, over one year after my diagnosis, currently receiving treatment based on my biomarkers. Every New Yorker who is suffering from an illness and whose treatment could be informed by biomarker testing should have access.”

The bipartisan biomarker testing proposal, which has received the support of every Assemblymember and Senator from Western New York, would not just benefit cancer patients; it is disease-agnostic given that biomarker testing is increasingly important in the treatment of other diseases, including, arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, rare diseases, and preeclampsia. Research is happening on the use of biomarker testing to treat other disease areas as well, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, cardiology and more.

Thirteen other states have already enacted comprehensive, disease-agnostic biomarker testing bills like the one advocates are calling on Governor Hochul to sign.

In 2023, approximately 31,320 New Yorkers will die from cancer, and countless more will suffer from disease. Improved access to biomarker testing can allow more New Yorkers to access the most effective treatment for their disease.

Members of the media are invited to interview ACS CAN staff about the importance of expanding equitable access to biomarker testing in New York. If interested, contact Casey O’Neill (at [email protected] or 215-375-8086).    

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Media Contacts

Casey O'Neill
Sr. Regional Media Advocacy Manager