Legislation Introduced to Increase New Jerseyans’ Access to Biomarker Testing, the Key to Precision Medicine

New Jerseyans impacted by cancer applaud legislative sponsors for championing proposals that aim to revolutionize patient care in the state

April 16, 2024

Last week, legislation that seeks to improve New Jerseyans’ access to biomarker testing was introduced in the Legislature. Biomarker testing helps connect cancer patients to the right treatment at the right time, often resulting in improved outcomes and quality of life. In some cases, biomarker testing may provide information that enables patients to forgo ineffective treatments and eliminate the potentially harmful, life-altering side effects of those treatments, which could also result in reduced health care costs.

S3098/A4163 is a priority bill for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which, last month as a part of their annual Cancer Action Week, dispatched its volunteers to connect with their lawmakers on the potential of this legislation. The proposal requires that all state-regulated insurance companies, including Medicaid, cover biomarker testing for patients when it is supported by medical and scientific evidence.

Similar legislation has passed into law in seventeen states, including New York. ACS CAN is urging New Jersey state leaders to support this effort and ensure that insurance coverage of biomarker testing keeps pace with innovation in treatment. This starts with advancing both bills favorably out of committee.

Nick Pifani is a New Jersey resident and pancreatic cancer survivor who credits biomarker testing with his survival.

“Biomarker testing was key to my treatment—a treatment that saved my life. My cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few weeks before me, and we lost her to the disease. She wasn’t as fortunate to receive biomarker testing nor the precision medicine treatments that typically follow,” said Pifani. “I feel so fortunate that I had access to biomarker testing. My kids were seven- and nine-years-old when I was diagnosed. I credit biomarker testing with getting to see them grow into adolescence. As a family member of someone who could have benefitted from biomarker testing and recipient myself, I urge lawmakers to make this critical resource available to every patient who can benefit—in hopes that it will lead to a treatment that will give them more time with the people they love.”

More of Pifani’s story can be accessed here.

While most current applications are in cancer, biomarker testing is also used in the treatment of arthritis and other autoimmune and rare diseases with research happening in additional areas, including Alzheimer’s, other neurological conditions, cardiology and more.

Despite the proven benefits, many insurers in New Jersey do not cover the most appropriate biomarker testing. This results in some patients being forced to decide whether to pay out-of-pocket—a cost many cannot realistically afford--or go without the testing and hope the first treatment prescribed is the right one. Not all communities are benefiting from the latest advancements in biomarker testing and precision medicine with disparities in access persisting along racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic lines.

The push to expand access to biomarker testing has drawn the support of medical professionals and public health groups representing patients across the disease spectrum; at present, over 20 organizations are working together with ACS CAN to pass S3098/A4163.

As the prime sponsor of S3098, Senator Vin Gopal said, “Biomarker testing is an excellent tool for cancer care, amongst other illnesses, and has proven essential in determining the best possible treatment for patients. It provides a wealth of information to medical providers and can lead to treatment that can improve patients' quality of life. I am proud to shepherd this legislation and help us save the lives of more New Jerseyans battling disease.”

Alongside his Senate colleague and co-prime sponsor, Majority Whip Troy Singleton said, “Despite evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of biomarker testing and targeted therapy, not all individuals currently benefit equitably from these advances. This important legislation will ensure that more patients are able to get the testing they need.”

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, who is the legislative champion in the Assembly, added "Biomarker testing represents a pioneering approach driving progress in cancer treatment, broadening the spectrum of available options for timely interventions and personalized care plans tailored to each individual's needs. In fact, over half of all new oncology drugs introduced in the past five years require or recommend biomarker testing before use.” She continued, “Expanding coverage of biomarker testing to New Jerseyans covered by state-regulated insurance plans, including Medicaid, would ensure more patients are directed to the right treatment at the right time. Ensuring its accessibility and affordability is paramount, as it empowers patients, regardless of their financial status and could ultimately reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for cancer patients.”

"It is crucial to expand access to personalized treatment through biomarker testing," said co-prime sponsor Assemblyman Gary Schaer.  "Often times, access to patient specific treatment is not always available to patients under their insurance plan and Medicaid. By guaranteeing insurance coverage, A4163 aims to combat healthcare disparities and ensures that all patients receive the quality care they deserve."

Assemblywoman Margie Donlon, M.D. has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Assembly bill, and she said, “Biomarker test results can serve as a roadmap for the best path when it comes to choosing the optimal cancer therapy for each individual patient. New Jerseyans deserve broad and equitable access to such tests to benefit from the best treatments that 21st century precision cancer medicine can offer.”

“As of today, seventeen states have expanded access to biomarker testing with legislation passing in Iowa yesterday. If New Jersey wishes to maintain its position as a leader in medical innovation, cancer care and public health, then we cannot pass on the opportunity to improve access to biomarker testing this session. S3098/A4163 offers the chance to do so, which could result in improved health outcomes, patient quality of life and in some cases cut costs across New Jersey,” said Quinton Law, Government Relations Director with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

Members of the media are invited to interview the ACS CAN individuals quoted herein; they are eager to discuss the importance of expanding access to biomarker testing in New Jersey. ACS CAN encourages advocates, businesses and organizations that are interested in learning more about precision medicine and biomarker testing to visit


About ACS CAN  
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. We engage our volunteers across the country to make their voices heard by policymakers at every level of government. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We stand with our volunteers, working to make cancer a top priority for policymakers in cities, states and our nation’s capital. Join the fight by visiting

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