New law will require insurers to cover biomarker testing for cancer treatment

 

STATE HOUSE – With the governor’s signature Friday, a new law sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and House Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman will soon require private health insurers in Rhode Island to cover biomarker testing.

Biomarker testing is a test of blood or other biological material to identify changes or abnormalities that may be associated with cancer. It can help a cancer patient’s medical team pinpoint the most effective course of treatment for that patient.

“Biomarker testing can save lives. It can help doctors identify treatment that is faster, more effective and less painful, and can ultimately save treatment dollars. All insurers should embrace this technology,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence). “Biomarker testing allows doctors to make full use the cancer research and treatment experience that is available. Patients deserve that benefit, and the hope that comes with it.”

Said Representative Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), “Biomarker technology allows doctors to pinpoint treatment that has the best possibility for success for an individual patient. It saves lives, time and money, and it’s an important advantage in the fight against cancer. Covering it just makes good sense for insurers and patients alike.”

The legislation (2022-S 2201A, 2022-H 7587A ), which was approved by the General Assembly June 22, will require every policy offered by health insurers, nonprofit hospital service corporations, nonprofit medical service corporations, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for biomarker testing by Jan. 1, 2024.

According to testimony provided by the International Cancer Advocacy Network (ICAN) in support of the bill, nothing helps more than biomarker testing in finding the right drugs at the right time for each individual cancer patient.

“Biomarker testing replaces educated guesswork with scientific evidence and makes truly personalized, precision medicine possible,” wrote Marcia K. Horn, ICAN president and CEO in her testimony.

She and other supporters noted that an insurance requirement will be especially helpful to those in disadvantaged populations, who are more likely to lack such coverage.

In addition to ICAN, the legislation was supported by the American Lung Association in Rhode Island, the American Cancer Action Network, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, the Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown University, the Global Colon Cancer Association, the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, the Latino Policy Institute and the National Marrow Donor Program, among other organizations.

 

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