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Rep. Moser files legislation to require health plans to provide biomarker screenings for cancer patients

Representative Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, filed HB 180, legislation that would require health benefit plans to cover biomarker and pharmacogenetic screenings for patients with a diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

Biomarker and pharmacogenetic testing is a way for healthcare providers to screen patients for genes, proteins, and other substances that give them information about an individual’s condition and how the patient will react to certain medications based on their genetic makeup.

Rep. Kim Moser

Currently in healthcare, 75% of patients with a cause for biomarker testing receive it, but it comes at a cost that not all insurers are willing to pay.  Obtaining genetic information allows for targeted treatment specific to the diagnosis, eliminating the trial and error and harmful side effects from unsuitable treatment protocols.

“I firmly believe that preventative care and early treatment is the first step in creating a healthier Commonwealth and will lower health care costs,” said Representative Moser. “The number of new cancer cases and chronic diseases our state sees in a year is tragic, and it is my hope that with this legislation more patients are given a fighting chance.”

Kentucky is ranked within the bottom 10 states for biomarker testing coverage. By adding this layer of coverage, patients would have the opportunity to receive the right treatment at the right time with minimal expense, granting a statistical advantage to a better clinical outcome.

Dr. Doug Flora of St. Elizabeth Healthcare, who joined with Rep. Moser for the announcement, said, “As an Oncologist and Hematologist, I strongly believe in the value of biomarker testing. Access to these tests remains a barrier for many patients. I am passionate about making biomarker testing more accessible so that all patients can benefit from the precision medicine approach and receive the best possible care.”

Other advocates for the legislation call biomarker testing an essential step in accessing precision medicine treatments.

“Dubbed ‘the right treatment at the right time,’ precision medicine has played a critical role in improving cancer outcomes,” said Doug Hogan, spokesman for the American Cancer Society’s Cancel Action Network. “I look forward to working with the rest of the legislature to pass this critical legislation.”

Leah Phillips of Oldham County, a cancer survivor, says biomarker testing was probably the single most important factor in her quality of life and longevity.

“When I was diagnosed with lung cancer as someone who has never smoked, biomarker testing was suggested to help choose the most effective treatment plan. The testing revealed that I have a genetically driven cancer that has a target therapy drug, which has allowed me to live a near normal life for the past three years and hopefully for many more. Without appropriate and consistent insurance coverage, cancer patients may not be able to afford the biomarker testing they need to save their lives.”

For more information on HB 180 as well as past and present legislative measures, please visit legislature.ky.gov.

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