PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed legislation to ensure patients and their doctors have access to innovative testing that can help determine the most effective medical treatment for cancer and other diseases.
Before signing the bill at the Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, the governor said Arizona now joins only a handful of other states in requiring health insurance plans to cover biomarker testing when there’s a clinical need.
“These types of tests have become a crucial part of cancer and other disease therapies and should be available to everyone who wants one,” said Governor Ducey. “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.”
The legislation, H.B. 2144, was sponsored by Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman and passed with strong bipartisan support in the Arizona House and Senate.
“Thank you to Rep. Cobb, Senate President Karen Fann, House Speaker Rusty Bowers and all the legislators for advocating for the health and safety of Arizonans,” Governor Ducey said.
Biomarker testing provides information about the presence of a disease or mutation within a patient and can determine whether a proposed treatment is likely to work.
“Biomarker testing is an important step in assessing precision medicine and delivering the treatments of the future,” said Rep. Cobb. “This bill will ensure patients get the most effective treatment for their specific disease by using information from their genes. Tailoring these treatments not only enhances care, but could save a life. Thank you to Governor Ducey for his support of this life-saving bill.”
Cathy Dalzell, a cancer survivor, joined the signing ceremony to share her experience with biomarker testing.
“Biomarker testing for cancer patients is compassionate and common sense legislation, requiring insurance providers to cover testing, will allow doctors to understand the genetic composition of a patient’s disease, so targeted treatment plans can be developed resulting in better health outcomes and better quality of life,” said Dalzell, who also serves as chairwoman of the Leadership Council for the International Cancer Advocacy Network.
The insurance coverage requirement only applies if the biomarker is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or nationally recognized clinical practice guidelines.
"As an oncologist, I have seen the life-saving difference biomarker testing can make for cancer patients," said Dr. Albert Wendt, a medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital. "It allows us to provide the right treatment options at the right time which helps us improve outcomes and even save lives. Precision medicine, which starts with biomarker testing, is the future of cancer treatment. We appreciate Governor Ducey and Representative Cobb for understanding the importance of this cutting-edge technology, and fighting for historic legislation that will allow more Arizonans to have access to these crucial tests."
The governor signed three other bills today:
S.B. 1009 state of emergency; executive powers (Ugenti-Rita)
S.B. 1085 PSPRS: funded ratio; asset transfers (Livingston)
S.B. 1607 state guard; volunteers (Townsend)