Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden) joined cancer survivors, caregivers, patients and many family and friends to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day at the New York State Capitol on Monday, June 5, 2023. The rally, organized by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, raised attention to the need to improve access to precision medicine by removing barriers to biomarker testing. Maher is a co-sponsor on a bill (A.1673), introduced by Assemblywoman Pam Hunter (D-Syracuse), requiring health insurance and Medicaid to cover biomarker testing. Many new oncology medications launched in the past five years require biomarker testing.
“To stand here with so many survivors of cancer is very moving and is something to celebrate. I look to my aunt and my friends who are survivors of cancer and just think of how far medicine, treatment and care have come along. I am grateful to have them in my life,” said Maher. “Yes, even as we speak, there are patients here needing our help. They need better access to care, medicines and treatments that are more specialized so their odds of overcoming cancer can be significantly increased. This can’t happen until they can have guaranteed access to biomarker testing, which opens the door to these specialized treatments. There is much to celebrate, but the work isn’t done in fighting cancer.”
In New York, 33% of commercial insurance plans provide coverage that is more restrictive than National Comprehensive Cancer Center guidelines; this leaves many patients having to pay for biomarker testing out of pocket if they can afford it. Of the 62 recent cancer medications released in the past five years, 37 require biomarker testing. These new medications and treatments are more targeted.