Arizona Passes Legislation to Expand Precision Medicine Coverage

New Arizona law is part of a broader trend of legislation improving access to precision medicine, offering new opportunities for healthcare organizations

Healthcare leaders will be interested to learn that Arizona has joined a small, but growing, group of states that are beginning to pass precision medicine-related legislation. The new bill, signed into law in early May by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, requires insurers to cover biomarker testing when there is a clinical need. Arizona’s new law is the latest in a growing trend of state and federal legislation that promotes access to precision medicine.

The new Arizona law (HB 2144), introduced by Arizona State Rep. Regina Cobb, is intended to improve access to precision medicine testing for both patients and the physicians caring for them.

“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 Ducey in a news release. “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,” he added.

Biomarkers Recommended by FDA and CMS Covered by New Bill

Albert Wendt, MD, medical oncologist at the Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, on Arizona law expanding precision medicine coverage
As an oncologist, I have seen the life-saving difference biomarker testing can make for cancer patients,” said Albert Wendt, MD (above), in Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s news release announcing coverage for the testing. “Precision medicine, which starts with biomarker testing, is the future of cancer treatment.” Wendt is a medical oncologist at the Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. (Photo: Dignity Health)

Precision medicine testing is becoming increasingly recognized as an essential component of tailoring cancer treatments and treatments for other diseases in a way that will best benefit individual patients. Expanding coverage for biomarker testing will be critical for improving access to precision medicine testing for Arizona residents.

“Biomarker testing is an important step in assessing precision medicine and delivering the treatments of the future,” said Cobb in the Governor’s news release. “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.”

Biomarkers recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are covered by the newly signed legislation. Additionally, biomarkers that are part of nationally recognized clinical practice guidelines also are covered.

Other Precision Medicine Legislation

Arizona’s recent legislation to increase access to precision medicine is part of a broader trend of improving coverage for personalized medicine options.

In November 2021, the US House of Representatives introduced the Precision Medicine Answers for Kids Today Act (HR 5989), which establishes a demonstration program for up to 15 state Medicaid programs to cover genetic and genomic testing, particularly for children.

And in “Newly Introduced Bipartisan Bill Would Increase Public Awareness of Benefits of Pharmacogenetic Treatments,” the Precision Medicine Institute reported on the Right Drug Dose Now Act (HR 6875) which aims to increase awareness of the benefits and availability of pharmacogenomic treatments that use a person’s genetic information to determine how they will respond to certain medications. This information allows medical treatments to be personalized based on each patient’s unique genetics, a key component of precision medicine.

The growing focus by state and federal governments on improving access to precision medicine will affect healthcare across the country. As precision medicine becomes more available to and affordable for patients, healthcare systems should expect that offering personalized treatment options will become advantageous from a business perspective as well. 

—Caleb Williams

Related Information:

Governor Ducey Signs Legislation to Enhance Access to Precision Medicine

HB 2144: Health Insurance Coverage; Biomarker Testing

International Cancer Advocacy Network

Dignity Health Cancer Institute

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center

HR 5989: Precision Medicine Answers for Kids Today Act

HR 6875: Right Drug Dose Now Act

Emmer, Swalwell Introduce Legislation to Prevent Adverse Drug Effects