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New Mexico passes law to expand targeted medical testing

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The law ensures people who use state-regulated insurance, such as Medicaid, have access to crucial testing for determining treatment.

The New Mexico Legislature passed a law this year that requires state-regulated insurance companies, including Medicaid, to cover targeted disease testing. Advocates say that the new requirement will be especially impactful in historically marginalized communities that typically receive little access to it.

Brian Hummell with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said biomarker testing helps doctors determine precisely what treatment is best for many patients, including those with cancer.

"A patient might end up getting the wrong treatment, which could be very expensive and costly to the patient themselves," he said.

He said that’s especially true in communities of color, where fewer patients have access to these sometimes expensive tests through insurance.

"It’s not enough to know that you have breast cancer," Hummell said. "We need to know the type of breast cancer that you have, and that will help dictate the proper treatment."

New Mexico is one of nearly a dozen states to pass legislation to expand biomarker testing, and another dozen have introduced similar bills this year.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Megan Myscofski is a reporter with KUNM's Poverty and Public Health Project.
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