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

Pennsylvanians’ impacted by cancer applaud Senator Robinson & Representative Mullins for championing legislation that aims to revolutionize patient care in the state

October 12, 2023

HARRISBURG, PA – OCTOBER 12, 2023 – Today, Rep. Kyle Mullins introduced House Bill 1754 to increase Pennsylvanians’ access to biomarker testing, following Sen. Devlin Robinson’s introduction of a companion bill, Senate Bill 954, in the Senate last week. A game-changing part of cancer care, biomarker testing opens the door to targeted therapy and personalized medicine which can improve patient survivorship and quality of life. This is a priority bill for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). Similar legislation has passed into law in thirteen states and is awaiting the Governor’s signature in New York. ACS CAN is urging Pennsylvania state leaders to support this effort and ensure that insurance coverage of biomarker testing keeps pace with innovation in treatment. This starts with the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee advancing Senate Bill 954 favorably out of Committee.

Distinct from genetic testing, biomarker testing is often referred to as molecular testing and tumor profiling. After an individual receives a diagnosis, biomarker testing can help connect cancer patients to the right treatment at the right time. Connecting them with the best treatment for their disease can result in improved outcomes and quality of life, in some cases enabling patients to forgo ineffective treatments and eliminating the potentially harmful, life altering side effects of those treatments, which could also result in reduced healthcare costs.

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 Pennsylvania 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. Some communities, specifically people living in rural areas, struggling economically and who are historically marginalized due to race or ethnicity, are less likely to receive biomarker testing.

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 Senate Bill 954 / House Bill 1754.

“More Pennsylvanians will benefit from precision medicine if Senate Bill 954 / House Bill 1754 becomes law,” said Lisa Selan, a Cumberland County resident and ACS CAN volunteer who was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in 2020. “Biomarker testing has saved me time, money and emotional stress by ruling out unnecessary treatments. It is vital that all Pennsylvanians have access to the same cancer care I do. Our lawmakers must do what’s right and pass this bill.”  

If passed, Senate Bill 954 / House Bill 1754 would require state-regulated insurance companies, including Medicaid, to cover biomarker testing for patients when it is supported by medical and scientific evidence.

“Increasing the availability of biomarker testing will mean 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. Ravi Parikh, MD, Associate Director of the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation. “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 Senate Bill 954 / House Bill 1754 requires coverage for comprehensive biomarker testing because every patient who can benefit from precision medicine should have access to it.”

See Dr. Parikh highlight where biomarker testing factors into cancer care and improves outcomes and quality of life.

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 Pennsylvania. ACS CAN encourages advocates, businesses and organizations that are interested in learning more about precision medicine and biomarker testing to visit



The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone.  As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. By engaging advocates across the country to make their voices heard, ACS CAN influences legislative and regulatory solutions that will end cancer as we know it.

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