by Tom Joyce

 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation to ensure that more insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover biomarker testing.

Ducey signed House Bill 2144 into law. The bill’s goal is to increase the chances of cancer patients surviving, improve their quality of life, and provide lower healthcare costs to them, according to a press release from Ducey’s office.

“These types of tests have become a crucial part of cancer and other disease therapies and should be available to everyone who wants one,” Ducey said. “Biomarker tests save lives. They help doctors determine the best course of treatment, prevent unnecessary treatments and will help us cure diseases like cancer in the future. No one should be denied this information.”

Bipartisan support carried the bill through the Legislature.

“Biomarker testing and precision medicine are helping extend and save lives by tailoring care and treatment to a person’s individual disease,” Brian Hummell, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Arizona, said in a Friday statement. “Close to 60% of the oncology drugs launched in the past five years require or recommend biomarker testing prior to use. And the percentage of cancer clinical trials that involve biomarkers has grown significantly.”

The American Cancer Society Action Network has noted that patients with some types of lung cancers have a 34% reduction in mortality if they receive biomarker testing and targeted therapy.

Biomarker accessibility among racial minorities, low-income Arizona residents, rural Arizonans, and patients receiving care in non-academic medical centers has been a problem in recent years, according to the governor’s office.

It passed through the Arizona House of Representatives unanimously. It also passed the Arizona Senate 25-2. The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

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Tom Joyce is a regular contributor to The Center Square.