Governor Newsom’s Veto of Legislation to Expand Access to Biomarker Testing Fails Cancer Patients

Cancer advocates lament the governor’s decision to veto a bill that would have ensured more patients have access to testing that could lead to improved survival and better quality of life

September 30, 2022

Sacramento, Calif. –  Last night, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation that would have ensured comprehensive biomarker testing is covered by more health insurance plans, including Medi-Cal, when supported by medical and scientific evidence.

Senate Bill 912 – which was introduced by Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) and sponsored by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the University of California – aimed to 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 cancer patients. 

The following is a statement from ACS CAN California Managing Director Jim Knox:

“Governor Newsom’s veto of SB 912 is a huge, missed opportunity to ensure more Californians – regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code, income or insurance type – can benefit from the most effective cancer treatments.

“The bill received unanimous, bipartisan support throughout the legislative process because our lawmakers recognized that increasing access to biomarker testing is a crucial step to help reduce health disparities. The percentage of clinical trials that involve biomarkers has grown significantly; over one-third of the oncology drugs launched in the past five years require or recommend biomarker testing prior to use; and doctors must test for specific biomarkers to determine if a patient will benefit from certain targeted therapies.

“It is heartbreaking that Californians across the state, particularly from marginalized communities, will have to keep waiting to get the testing needed to benefit from the latest advancements in precision medicine.

“While disappointed, ACS CAN volunteers remain committed to continue working with our elected leaders to ensure all cancer patients can benefit from better care by removing barriers to biomarker testing and precision medicine.”

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Priscilla Cabral-Perez
Regional Multicultural Media Advocacy Associate Director