Lawmakers Hear Emotional Testimony At Hearing For Lyme Disease Bill

Legislation Would Medical Examining Board Come Up With Standards For Diagnosis, Treatment

Lawmakers heard emotional stories of how people’s lives have been affected by Lyme disease at a hearing Wednesday for a bill supporters say would improve diagnosis and treatment of the tick-borne illness.

Susan Allen of Hartland used to be a teacher and a runner, but now she can’t work and has trouble walking after Lyme disease infected her brain. After waiting 4 years for a diagnosis, she describes herself as a “battle-weary warrior.”

“I’m a veteran of a war I never signed up for, and a victim of a battle between two entities: my government and the medical establishment,” she told lawmakers.

Other victims of Lyme disease testified that they went to countless doctors who misdiagnosed their ailment, or who wouldn’t treat them at all.

The bill up for consideration would have the Medical Examining Board come up with rules on how to best diagnose and treat Lyme disease. The legislation faces opposition from the Wisconsin Medical Society, which asserts it would be unprecedented to have the board set such rules.

Dr. James Conway, a pediatric disease specialist with University of Wisconsin Health, told the Assembly health committee there are national guidelines for Lyme disease, and that this bill may be a solution looking for a problem.

“We have an obligation to do no harm, and we now know that unnecessary antibiotics lead to resistance, and long courses of antibiotics lead to all sorts of complications,” he said.

Those complications include problems like clostridium difficile diarrhea, commonly known as C. diff.

Lyme disease occurs mostly in the upper Midwest and northeast part of the country. It can cause fatigue, joint pain and even affect the central nervous system.

One of the bill’s authors, Rep. Melissa Sargent, told the committee how her 10-year old son was treated for the disease after he got a fever, fatigue and strange rash.

“Probably every single one of us has a story of someone that we know, that we love, that has been touched by this. We are an active community. We are a state that loves being outdoors,” she said.

Rep. James Edming, a member of the health committee, talked about his own bout with Lyme disease.

“I’m almost scared to go into the woods — and I live in the woods,” he said. “You can’t walk around with this big jar over top of yourself with a cap on top of it.”

Rep. David Craig, another author, said the bill differs from laws in Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut, which protect doctors from license sanctions for prescribing controversial Lyme treatments. Craig said this legislation provides a clear direction for medical professionals regarding what steps can be taken to treat long-term symptoms of Lyme disease.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio

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Battle Rages Over Lyme Disease Bill

Insurance companies and patient advocates are battling it out on Beacon Hill over a controversial Lyme disease bill that would mandate long-term insurance coverage for patients who say their bodies are racked with the chronic effects of a disease that plagues thousands of Bay Staters each year.

Source: Boston Herald

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Lyme Disease Insurance Bill Could Mandate Long-Term Coverage

Should this bill pass, it would mean that patients struggling with this condition will benefit from continued coverage.

Lyme disease insurance isn’t necessarily something that people are always talking about, but it is an issue that becomes tremendously important to the millions of people who are afflicted with this tick-borne illness.

In Massachusetts, this bill is currently being battled out between patient advocates and insurance companies.

The Lyme disease insurance bill is certainly controversial. If it should pass, it would require long-term insurance coverage for patients who are experiencing the chronic symptoms of the disease, which affects thousands of people throughout the state with every new year. The disease is not only often difficult to diagnose, but it also comes with a broad spectrum of different kinds of symptoms and effects. These can be highly costly to the patients and can be financially detrimental.

There have been many reports of people without Lyme disease insurance who have remortgaged their homes.

These individuals are simply too sick to be able to keep up a steady job and find themselves not only without an income but also facing expenses related to treating the various symptoms. According to Trish McCleary, an advocate for Lyme disease patients and a former Massachusetts Lyme Disease Commission member, “We’ve got people remortgaging their homes. They’re too sick to work.” She believes that if this bill passes, it is “going to put people back to work. It’s going to save lives.”

The bill, entitled “An Act Relative to Lyme Disease Treatment Coverage,” has been filed in the Senate and in the House. It would require that the mandatory coverage for the condition be lengthened in a significant way. Currently, the required insurance coverage is for two to four weeks of antibiotics. The bill calls for treatment regimens that would extend as long as a doctor deems them to be necessary.

Rep. David Linsky and Senator Anne Gobi have sponsored the Lyme disease insurance legislation, which also boasts 140 co-sponsors and is expected to be decided upon this week. This comes at a time in which the state has reached the second highest incidence of this disease in the United States.

Source: Live Insurance News

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