Lawmakers Take Critical Step to Revolutionize Cancer Treatment in Georgia, State’s Second Leading Cause of Death

Rep. Cooper Introduces Bill to Allow More Georgians to Access Routinely Recommended Testing That Allows Doctors to Personalize Health Care Treatments to Target Specific Cancer Growth

January 31, 2023

ATLANTA, GA – January 31, 2023 – Today, Rep. Sharon Cooper filed a bill (HB85) that will allow more Georgians to receive biomarker testing – a routine step in accessing personalized medicine treatments that has become an increasingly important part of cancer care in recent years due to its significant impact in improving survivorship and quality of life.  

Progress in the fight against cancer has been in part due to advances in biomarker testing which allows physicians to match patients with the most effective treatment for their specific cancer. Unfortunately, too many Georgians can’t access such testing, which can contribute to disparities in access to the most appropriate and effective treatments.  

“Today’s legislation holds great promise in ensuring the delivery of the right treatment at the right time,” shared Rep. Sharon Cooper, Chairman of the House Public Health Committee who sponsored the bill. “By aligning coverage of biomarker testing with the latest science, we can help achieve better health outcomes, improved quality of life and potentially reducing costs by allowing some Georgians to bypass costly and ineffective treatments, and instead quickly identify which therapies will be most effective for their individual disease.”    

Biomarker testing plays a vital role in providing timely access to innovative and appropriate therapies, leading to higher chances of survivorship against cancer. For example, patients with certain lung cancer types who received biomarker testing and targeted therapy had a 31% reduction in mortality.  

Committed to improving cancer outcomes in the state, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Georgia supports the measure and is working with cancer survivors and providers across the state to urge for its passage.  

“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,” noted Dr. Suresh Ramalingam, Executive Director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. “Today’s legislation will bring the hope of precision medicine to more people across the state.” 

To date, 4 states across the country have passed legislation to ensure coverage biomarker testing reflects the latest evidence, with governors like Gov. Doug Ducey from Arizona sparking momentum around the initiative. Last session both the Georgia House and Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the benefits of biomarker testing.  

The legislation is supported by over 40 patient and provider organizations in Georgia, including the Medical Association in Georgia, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia Hospital Association and Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education. 

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