LAS VEGAS – March 13, 2023 – Nevada Assemblywoman Sarah Peters (D) has introduced Assembly Bill 155 which would expand access to biomarker testing statewide. Testing has become an increasingly important and game-changing part of cancer care in recent years due to its significant impact in improving survivorship and quality of life. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is urging members of the Committee on Health and Human Services to vote ‘yes’ to this legislation during hearing Friday, March 17, 2023, at 1:30 p.m.
After a cancer diagnosis, biomarkers can help connect patients with the right treatment at the right time. As a result, lives can be extended by ruling out unnecessary treatments and eliminating potentially life-altering side effects.
Most insurance plans in the state currently cover biomarker testing; however, unfortunately, there is a small population of Nevadans who still don’t have access either because their healthcare insurance provider doesn’t cover the technology or because, individually, a patient cannot afford a plan that does. Despite the enormous proven benefits, some insurers are failing to keep pace with innovations and advancements in biomarker testing and treatment. This results in some patients being forced to decide whether to pay out-of-pocket or go without this treatment and hope the first treatment prescribed is the right one. Some communities – specifically those who are historically marginalized – are being left behind.
“More Nevadans will survive cancer if AB155 becomes law,” said Patti Kellerhouse, a Nevada ACS CAN volunteer from Las Vegas who was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2017. “Biomarker testing has saved me time, money, and emotional stress by ruling out unnecessary treatments. It is vital that all Nevadans have access to the same cancer care I do. Our lawmakers must do what’s right and pass this bill.”
If passed, AB155 would require state-regulated insurance companies and Medicaid to cover biomarker testing for patients diagnosed with cancer who need testing when it is supported by medical and scientific evidence.
“Availability of biomarker testing that factors in a patients’ genomic and cellular profile means that truly targeted treatments are closer than ever before. As more of these targeted therapies are being developed, there is demand for continued access to the technology,” said Dr. Rupesh J. Parikh, medical oncologist with Comprehensive Cancer Centers. “Oncologists rely on the ability to identify specific mutations for certain types of malignancies to construct a treatment plan that will result in the best possible outcomes. We are pleased to see that AB155 includes required coverage for biomarker testing, as the patient should not be forced to pay out of pocket for it.”
In 2023, more than 17,000 Nevadans are projected to be diagnosed with cancer and, of those, nearly 6,000 are expected to die. Cancer is the leading cause of death nationwide among Hispanic/Latino people with Black/African American populations dying from cancer at a rate disproportionate to White populations.
Without action on biomarker testing, existing disparities in cancer outcomes by race, ethnicity, income, and geography could increase. To date, four states across the country have passed legislation expanding access to biomarker testing, including Arizona.
“This proposed legislation holds great promise in ensuring the delivery of the right treatment at the right time,” said Assemblywoman Peters. “Biomarker testing will help more Nevadans achieve better health outcomes, improve quality of life, and potentially reduce costs for those fighting cancer.”
Members of the media are invited to interview a volunteer, oncologist, and ACS CAN staff member about the importance of expanding access to biomarker testing in Nevada. Volunteers will also meet with lawmakers and urging them to pass AB155 during ACS CAN’s Cancer Action Day at the Capitol in Carson City on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
ACS CAN encourages individuals, businesses and organizations that are interested in getting involved in the fight against cancer to visit fightcancer.org/states/nevada
AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS:
Patty Kellerhouse, Nevadan and cancer survivor who benefitted from biomarker testing
Dr. Rupesh Parikh, MD, Comprehensive Cancer Centers (Las Vegas)
Randy Johnson, Nevada Government Relations Director, ACS CAN