University of Illinois Cancer Center backs biomarker bill

The University of Illinois Cancer Center is among nearly 25 healthcare organizations supporting House Bill 1779, which will expand insurance coverage of biomarker testing.

Biomarker testing analyzes a patient’s tissue, blood or fluid to discover disease. In cancer care, biomarkers are often used to help determine the best treatment for a patient. It is an important step to accessing precision medicine, with therapies that can lead to improved survivorship and better quality of life for patients, according to the advocacy organization American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“Ensuring equitable access to biomarker testing by improving coverage for and access to testing across insurance types is key to reducing health disparities,” said ACS CAN Illinois Government Relations Director Shana Jo Crews in a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker urging him to sign the bill. “Insurance coverage for biomarker testing is failing to keep pace with innovations and advancements in treatment.”

Not all Illinois communities are benefitting from the latest advancements in biomarker testing and precision medicine, Crews said. Communities of color and individuals with lower socioeconomic status are less likely to receive biomarker testing, as are people in rural communities and those receiving care in nonacademic medical centers.

“Improving access to biomarker testing – and thereby access to targeted therapies – is a strategy to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for patients facing diseases like cancer,” she said.

The bill was initiated by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago). It passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

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