A push continues to increase access to biomarker testing in New York state, which can help doctors figure out the best treatment for cancer patients.

Advocates for the legislation want this passed before the June 8 end of the legislative session.

Supporting that push is self-proclaimed lung cancer thriver Ken Schlosser.

Typically a healthy guy, he felt some pressure in his stomach in 2019 and almost brushed it off.

"It was just such a unique experience," he said. "I figured I'd better go to the ER.”

He didn’t expect they’d find a mass, metastasized, in his lung. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

“I have generations of heart history, so I figured out would be my ultimate demise," he said. "I never figured that possibly lung cancer would be my ultimate demise.”

Instead of chemo or immunotherapy, his doctors did biomarker testing and found he had ALK-positive cancer, a rare mutation.

“My oncologist said that I won the cancer lottery that there was an approved pill for it,” said Schlosser.

Technically, it's eight pills. But it's worth it to avoid chemo and keep Schlosser doing what he loves, like spending time outdoors.

“One of the things I enjoy in life is having a healthy, beautiful yard,” he said as he watered some flowers.

The biomarker testing that made all of this possible wasn’t covered by his insurance though.

“They actually covered the tests for me, the Roswell Alliance,” Schlosser recalled.

Without that, it would’ve cost a few thousand bucks. While it’s a cost Schlosser could bear, that’s not the same for everyone.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says millions of New Yorkers are being left out of biomarker testing, mostly low-income, minority, or older patients.

They cite a study that found only 32% of New Yorkers are covered by plans that have more restrictive coverage than what is recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for four common cancers.

That can be an issue considering this testing is becoming more widespread in cancer research, with the percentage of clinical trials using biomarkers growing from 15% in 2000 to 55% in 2018. The Cancer Action Network also points out that 37 of the 62 cancer drugs launched in the past 5 years require biomarker testing before you can use them.

bill working through the state legislature would mandate insurance coverage for this testing.

“It would be a tremendous game changer,” said Schlosser.

That could potentially bring better care off-the bat, instead of something more toxic, like chemo.

“I wouldn't have been feeling pretty much as healthy as I ever have, even though I'm supposedly deathly sick,” Schlosser said.

For Schlosser, that means spending more quality time with loved ones and advocating for change.

“We want to just shine the light that anybody can get lung cancer,” he said.

He says it’s thanks to biomarker testing that he continues to make to most of his time here.

“Even though I may not still be blessed with lung cancer, stage four incurable," he said. "I'm blessed to be thriving and living an active life right now.”

There was some pushback to this bill from insurance companies.

New York’s Health Plan Association, which represents health plans giving coverage to more than 8 million New Yorkers, said the legislation was too broad.

However, the HPA says recent changes to the legislation addresses these concerns.

In a statement, president and CEO Eric Linzer said the bill, “takes a balanced approach of utilizing biomarker testing to inform the best treatment of care for patients through safe and effective testing that is supported by nationally recognized clinical guidelines.”