A bill signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday requires health insurers and the state's Medicaid plan to pay for so-called "biomarker tests" that are needed for many modern cancer treatments.
The legislation's signing was hailed by the American Cancer Society, which called biomarker testing a critical step in assessing precision cancer treatments. Measuring the presence of certain biomarkers such as gene mutations allows doctors to better target certain cancers and can lead to fewer side affects and better quality of life and survival rates.
"Close to 60% of the oncology drugs launched in the past five years require or recommend biomarker testing prior to use," said Brian Hummell, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Arizona. "And the percentage of cancer clinical trials that involve biomarkers has grown significantly."
The bill passed with overwhelming support in the Legislature.
It was backed by several major hospitals, pharmaceutical and testing companies and the Cancer Society, among others. It was opposed by several major health insurers and their national association, America's Health Insurance Plans, and the greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
The measure was sponsored by Republican Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman.